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Factsheet on ProBE 2007


Programme-based Engagement (ProBE) was launched in March 2006 to improve workplace safety and health by targeting areas identified as priority or high-risk, i.e., hazards, industries or occupations that significantly contribute to workplace deaths and injuries. This strategic intervention initiative includes industry engagement such as competency and awareness building efforts, as well as firm and fair enforcement activities. See Annex A for more information on the ProBE process.

ProBE Priorities in 2006

2.   ProBE commenced with Scaffolds as a focus area in March 2006 before moving on to Confined Space, Metalworking and Work at Heights. The ProBE on Work at Heights, launched in late 2006, will be extended because the issue of falls from height cut across many industries and require an extended engagement programme to reach a wider base of stakeholders.

3.   After implementing ProBE for Scaffolds, Confined Space and Metalworking, the number of fatalities in these areas has dropped from 15 in 2005 to 10 in 2006. The scaffolding industry also saw itself banding together to form an association called ASIA (Access and Scaffolds Industry Association) which has committed to improving safety and health standards in the industry.

4.   However, there are still many common contraventions that were detected during the enforcement phase on these priority areas. These findings have been communicated to the relevant sectors to help them effect improvement plans.

5.   For the ProBE on Scaffolds, 198 inspections were carried out in May and June 2006. Of these, 20 Stop Work Orders and 287 composition fines were issued. The top five contraventions, accounting for 59%, include:

  • Absence of toe-boards and guard-rails to prevent fall from height
  • Poor housekeeping on scaffolds
  • Boards, planks and decking not properly secured
  • Poor maintenance of scaffold to prevent accidental displacement
  • Absence of stairs and ladders for access from one level of any scaffold to another

6.   For the ProBE on Confined Space, 221 inspections were carried out in July and August 2006. More than half of the workplaces lacked proper risk assessments for work in confined spaces and were asked to conduct and document risk management for their processes. The top five contraventions, accounting for more than 70%, included:

  • Insufficient illumination for maintaining safe working conditions
  • Failure to provide safe means of access or egress from confined space
  • Failure to provide practicable measures to protect person against risks of electric shock arising from the use of electrical installation or equipment in the workplace
  • Failure to implement permit-to-work system
  • Carrying out of hot-work onboard vessels without a valid permit

7.   For the ProBE on Metalworking, 318 inspections were carried out from September to November 2006. Arising from the inspections, one Stop Work Order and 17 Composition fines were issued. The top five contraventions, accounting for 68%, included:

  • Failure to conduct risk assessment in relation to safety and health risk posed by the work
  • Failure to ensure machinery is securely fenced to prevent injury when in use
  • Failure to establish and implement log-out tag-out procedures
  • Failure to subject lifting equipment to examination by authorised examiner at regular intervals
  • Failure to provide, maintain and replenish suitable first aid box in the workplace

ProBE Priorities in 2007

8.   The ProBE areas identified for 2007 are: Work at Heights, Forklift, Lifting Equipment and Work in Noisy Environment.

Work at Heights

9.   In 2006, 24 deaths or 38.8% of workplace fatalities resulted from falls from height at the workplace (see Figure 1). This is a continuation of the trend found over four years from 2002 – 2005, which saw falls from height accounting for 35% of all fatal industrial accidents. Thus, the ProBE on Work at Heights will be intensified in 2007.

Figure 1 - Top 3 causes of workplace fatalities for 2006

Forklift and Lifting Equipment

10.   The use of transport equipment or vehicles (such as a forklift) and lifting equipment (such as a mobile crane) was linked to 27.4% and 17.7% of all workplace fatal injuries respectively. Together, they represent 45.1% of all fatal injuries in workplaces. (Figure 2)

Figure 2

11.   Within the category of transport equipment, accidents involving forklifts contributed to more than 50% of the fatalities. In addition, the data also shows an increasing trend in the number of non-fatal injuries (see Figure 3). The increase in accidents, coupled with the fact that forklifts are widely used in many operations, affirms the need for a targeted intervention programme for Forklift.

Figure 3

12.   Accidents involving lifting equipment are the next most common (see Figure 2). Although fatal injuries involving lifting equipment have been on the decline (see Figure 4), the sharp rise in 2006 warrants the need to focus on Lifting Equipment.

Figure 4

Work in Noisy Environment

13.   Prolonged exposure to excessive workplace noise is linked to the rising incidence of Noise Induced Deafness. As shown in Figure 5, the number of cases has been increasing in the last two years, with a 37% jump from 2005 to 2006. Noise induced deafness accounted for 81.4% of all occupational diseases reported in 2006, as shown in Figure 6. These figures point to the need for targeted intervention on workplaces with high noise level.

Figure 5

Figure 6 - Top 2 Types of Occupational Disease in 2006