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1000 Inspections On The Construction Sector Slated Over The Next Three Months

Aimed at addressing rising number of construction and Fall from Height fatalities

04 November 2010

  1. Bucking the trend of declining fatality rates in most sectors, construction sector fatality rate this year remains virtually unchanged. From January to September this year, more than half of all fatalities were from the construction sector. Falls from Height was the cause of 2 in every 5 fatalities, making it the most common type of fatal incident at the workplace. MOM has therefore intensified enforcement efforts to arrest the stubbornly high fatality rate in the construction sector. Please see Annex A for the workplace fatalities figures in the period of January to September this year.

    Operation Skyhawk III: 8 Stop Work Orders issued with 151 safety violations uncovered
  2. On 25 October 2010, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) conducted "Operation Sky Hawk III" with 39 inspections across construction worksites located at Sentosa Cove. 8 stop work orders were issued by MOM's Occupational Safety & Health inspectors, with 151 safety violations uncovered at the 39 worksites inspected. The contractors who were issued the stop work orders had demonstrated a blatant disregard for safety and health at the worksites. In addition to being issued demerit points, they will be facing fines of up to $5,000 per violation. The Ministry had ordered the contractors to rectify their safety lapses before work can re-commence at these sites. A list of the companies issued with the stop work orders can be found in Annex B.
  3. Many of the safety lapses arose from basic safety issues which all contractors are aware of. The serious safety lapses, identified during the inspections included:

    • Open sides of building without any edge protections
    • Lack of proper access to and from work areas
    • Poor housekeeping contributing to tripping hazards

    Please see Annex C for more details.

    Construction and Work at Height remains the top priority for MOM
  4. MOM's Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, Mr Ho Siong Hin said, "The repeated fatalities at construction worksites, especially those fatalities involving falling from heights, are a serious concern for MOM. Our investigations show that many of these cases could have been prevented if the contractor had taken basic safety measures. Such disregard for safety and lives is unacceptable. Developers of construction projects should be mindful of whom they select as their contractors, as poor workplace safety and health management can lead to work stoppages and delay in projects. MOM will be stepping up inspections, with at least 1,000 inspections in the next 3 months on construction worksites. Stiff penalties will be imposed, where warranted. This will serve as a strong signal to those who take workers' safety for granted."

    Help available for construction sector to improve safety
  5. To complement the enforcement action by MOM, the WSH Council will also continue their engagement of all stakeholders to address the concerns in the construction sector. The WSH Council is zooming in on subcontractor SMEs, which employ the majority of the workforce in this sector. The Council will be conducting a study on the construction sector1 to understand the systemic issues and challenges that contractors face. Chairman of the WSH Council's Construction and Landscaping Committee, Mr Jackson Yap said, "Through the study, we will be better able to understand the systemic issues and challenges these SME contractors face on the ground. This will in turn enable us to tailor initiatives for workplace safety improvements. We also aim to help developers and larger contractors play a bigger role in helping their subcontractors raise workplace safety and health management standards."
  6. The National Work at Height Taskforce will also intensify its efforts through capability-building initiatives such as the Work at Height Course for Supervisors and the continuation of the Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAVs)2. The National Work at Height Taskforce Chairman, Mr Wong Weng Sun, said, "The Taskforce will carry out another 600 SCAV visits offering immediate assistance to smaller worksites and their workers over the next few months. We also identified over 1,500 companies which had work at height incidents to send their supervisors for the newly developed Supervisor course. This will enable them to develop internal capabilities to implement a Fall Protection Plan and better manage Work at Height risks."

    Reminder to companies
  7. 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. Besides issuing fines and warnings, MOM officers will also issue stop work orders in workplaces that present immediate danger to the workers.
    1 The study will support the ongoing implementation of the 10-year construction sectoral plan that was announced in March 2010.
    2 See here for more details on the Work at Height Course for Supervisors and the SCAVs.