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Six Stop Work Orders Issued During MOM’s Operation "Sky Hawk"

The Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Inspectorate launched Operation "Sky Hawk" last week across 29 smaller construction sites. The island-wide blitz focused on fall-from-height risks - the number one cause of fatal accidents at workplaces. Six of the sites were slapped with stop work orders for poor management of their sites' safety which posed imminent danger to their workers. MOM inspectors also issued 179 fines and warnings in total to the worksites for unsafe work practices. All parties have been instructed to rectify the safety lapses before work can resume in these areas.

Key areas of concern uncovered by Operation "Sky Hawk"

2. During Operation “Sky Hawk”, MOM inspectors found four main areas of concern in the worksites. Please see Annex for details.

a) Open sides without proper barricades
Almost all of the worksites inspected were found to have open sides. Workers there faced the risk of falling over these open sides of buildings under construction, which should have been barricaded.

b) Poorly erected scaffolds
Such scaffolds were found in about 2 out of every 3 worksites inspected. Some safety lapses included work platforms with exposed gaps where workers could fall through and the lack of access ladders to reach the next working platform.

c) Lack of proper access to and from work areas
38% of worksites inspected lacked proper access to and from work areas, which could result in workers using unsafe methods to access the work areas.

d) No risk assessment conducted
Almost 1 in 5 of the workplaces inspected did not conduct risk assessment for work at height. Risk assessment is essential in ensuring that fall from height hazards are identified and that effective mitigating measures are implemented before work starts, to prevent accidents and injuries.

Operation Sky Hawk a “timely wake up call” for smaller construction worksites

3. "It is very serious that MOM had to issue six stop work orders and 179 fines and warnings during Operation Sky Hawk. They indicate that these smaller worksites need to urgently improve their safety practices. Smaller worksites cannot afford to dismiss workplace safety, especially the dangers of working at height. They have been instructed to immediately rectify these lapses as well as work on putting in place proper systems, processes and a Fall Protection Plan to address work at height risks. MOM will continue our regular worksite inspections islandwide to check on these small sites. We will not hesitate to take stern action against errant contractors who do not improve on their safety practices," said Mr Silas Sng, Director of MOM's Occupational Safety & Health (OSH) Inspectorate.

4. Chairman of the National Work at Height Safety Taskforce Mr Wong Weng Sun added, "The Taskforce has earlier identified smaller workplaces as the key area of focus for our work. This is seen in the latest MOM Operation as a number of these smaller sites lack even basic risk assessment – a key concern for the Taskforce. We hope Operation Sky Hawk will serve as a timely wake-up call for these sites. They must step up efforts to keep workers safe. This includes putting in place a Fall Protection Plan and sending their workers and supervisors for training. We urge these smaller worksites to do so by tapping on the new Code of Practice on Working Safely at Height and the Work at Height kit available on the WSH Council website."

MOM to continue enforcement efforts

5. During worksite inspections, MOM officers can issue stop work orders in workplaces that present immediate danger to workers. They can also issue warnings and composition fines of up to $5,000 for each infringement. 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 $200,000 and/or 24 months jail term.