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35 Safety Violations Across Nine Shipyards Islandwide Detected In MOM’s Operation “Seagull”

35 fines and warning letters issued in total

The Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Inspectorate conducted Operation “Seagull”, a weekend ‘after office hours' inspection1 at nine shipyards island-wide. The inspectors uncovered 35 Workplace Safety & Health (WSH) violations. The nine shipyards were issued a total of 25 composition fines and warning letters. Eight fines and warnings were issued to the subcontractors within the shipyards. Another two warnings were issued to individuals – a supervisor and a Ship Repair Manager2. All parties were instructed to rectify the safety lapses before work can resume in these areas. Please see Annex A for details.

2.   Maintaining oversight on ‘after office hours' work is important as about 42% of workplace fatalities3 arise from work carried out during these hours, whether at night or on weekends. The marine sector is a key area as it accounts for about 20% of workplace fatalities. Operation “Seagull” was aimed at inspecting work done during weekends in the marine industry, following a successful Operation “Night Eagle” in August which focused on construction worksites that operate round-the-clock.


Action taken by Operation “Seagull”

3.   In Operation “Seagull”, MOM inspectors found three main areas of concern in the shipyards – fall hazards, electrical hazards and the lack of safe entry and exit points4 to and from work areas. Six of the nine shipyards did not have adequate barriers to prevent workers from falling over open sides or through openings within the shipyards or on board vessels. Such fall hazards are dangerous because they can lead to fatal falls from heights. Workers working on board vessels are also at risk of falling and drowning in the waters where the vessels are berthed.

4.   About half of the nine shipyards inspected were found to lack safe entry and exit points within certain work areas. Workers were not provided proper means, such as ladders, to reach higher ground or other areas where work was to be carried out. Without the proper access, workers may seek their own ways to reach these work areas in an unsafe manner and injure themselves as a result.

5.   Electrical hazards were found in about half of the shipyards inspected. This involved the lack of safe work procedures to ensure safe use of electrical equipment and installations, as well as poor maintenance of the equipment. Workers who need to use such equipment are exposed to the risks of electrocution. For more details on the safety violations, please see Annex B.

Shipyards urged to improve safety in areas of concern

6.   “The areas uncovered by Operation “Seagull” are of concern as they are potential risks that can lead to severe consequences, be it fatal falls or electrocution from poorly-maintained equipment. The Ministry is concerned about these issues and had since instructed the shipyards and their subcontractors to rectify them. During Operation “Seagull”, our officers also observed that the shipyards had provided adequate supervision during the weekends. This is important as supervisors play a critical role. They can help to ensure that work is carried out safely and keep workers from taking short cuts or ignoring safety rules. Shipyards are reminded to provide high levels of supervision during all work hours and to keep a constant watch over the areas uncovered during Operation “Seagull”. MOM will continue to work closely with the WSH Council and the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) on industry initiatives5 to address safety concerns and up safety awareness at shipyards,” said Mr Silas Sng, Director of MOM's OSH Inspectorate.

WSH Council on improving safety in the marine sector

7.   “Over the past dozen or so years, together with the MOM and other stakeholders, our marine industry has made good efforts and shown its commitment to improve workplace safety and health for its 150,000-strong workforce. However, Operation “Seagull” shows that current safety standards are still not good enough to achieve our WSH 2018 vision. Much more must be done to ensure the safety of our marine workers. To meet the challenges posed by a varied workforce and the huge number of subcontractors working side-by-side on a daily basis, shipyards will need to further enhance their current WSH management systems and develop a strong WSH culture involving all parties who work within their yards. Currently, some of the industry's top leaders are already working closely with MOM and the WSH Council to enhance contractor management and safety training for workers and supervisors. Our marine industry must show even stronger commitment to making workplace safety and health a core value in their business model so that Singapore can remain and improve on its position as a global leader in shipbuilding and ship repair.” said Professor Poo Aun Neow, Chairman, WSH Council (Marine Industries) Committee.

MOM to continue enforcement efforts

8.   MOM will continue to conduct inspections across workplaces. Besides issuing fines and warnings, MOM officers will also issue stop work orders in workplaces that present immediate danger to workers. Companies that fail to ensure workplace safety may be charged under the Workplace Safety and Health Act which carries a maximum fine of $500,000. Individuals can also be charged under the WSH Act for a maximum fine of $500,000 and/or 24 months jail term.


1Weekend and night inspections are part of the MOM's ‘after office hours' inspection efforts that are conducted regularly.  Operation “Sea Gull” was an intensive weekend inspection conducted by MOM at major shipyards across Singapore on 13 Sept 09.

2The supervisor was warned for failing to take measures to ensure the safety of persons performing hot works.  This includes measures like assigning a fire watchman to keep watch over the area where the hot-work is being carried out throughout the duration of the hot-work.  The Ship Repair Manager was warned for issuing a hot-work permit without ensuring that all measures have been taken to manage the risks and hazards involved in carrying out the hot-works.
3In 2008, there were 28 fatalities that took place after office hours out of a total of 67 fatalities at the workplace. (Office hours are defined as Mon to Fri, 8am to 6pm)

4This refers to the access and egress to and from work areas such as scaffolds and staircases.

5Initiatives include the ASMI-led unprecedented time-out for the marine sector last year, ongoing industry support for the enhanced safety training of marine trade workers and plans for a new Marine Industry Training Centre.