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Concerted National Drive to Address Fatal Falls and Crane Incidents

All crane operators to undergo crane safety awareness workshops before renewal of licenses
MOM to conduct 3,000 workplace visits including direct on-site engagement visits by roving Safety Compliance Assistance Visit (SCAV) vans

1. Literally bringing safety to worksites – that is what the new Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAV) will do. By end June, 1,000 such visits will be made by special vans fanning across the island to check worksites for work at height concerns and even provide onsite training for site supervisors and personnel. At the same time, the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) inspectors will intensify enforcement in the next three months with 2,000 checks on work at height issues. All crane operators will be required to undergo safety awareness workshops before they can renew their 2-year operator licenses.

2. These are just some of the new initiatives announced by the National Work at Height and National Crane Safety Taskforces aimed at raising the standards of work at height and crane-related work. The initiatives involve intervention and capability-building measures and are based on the plans released by the taskforces earlier1.

3. Welcoming this move by the taskforces, Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Manpower, declared, "We are embarking on a concerted national drive to stamp out safety hazards in work at height and crane operations that account for 46% of work fatalities2 last year. To effectively tackle the issues, we need to take a tough stand while maintaining a fair and balanced approach. These initiatives are extremely timely and a step in the right direction. Industry players committed to safety but lack the knowledge can count on the assistance recommended by the Taskforces. However, those who fail to keep workers safe will face enforcement action."

Updates on initiatives by National Work at Height (WAH) Taskforce

4. While work at height is conducted across many workplaces, the Taskforce has recommended a focus on three key groups over the next few months – (i) companies with work at height incidents in 2009, (ii) small contractors or construction worksites and (iii) roof works and demolition contractors3. A summary of the initiatives are highlighted below with details in Annex C.

  1. Enhancing the Intervention Framework for WAH
    • 2,000 inspections4 by MOM's inspectors by June 2010
    • 1,000 Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAV)5 by June 2010
  2. Building Strong Capabilities
    • Series of forums, workshops and a special Falls Symposium6
    • Develop national WAH competency standards for supervisors on implementation of Fall Protection Plan (FPP) – accredited training providers details to be ready by May 2010
    • A WAH training video for workers
  3. Promoting the benefits of WAH safety
    • A series of bus advertisements to roll out in April 2010 to remind workers and prompt public to report unsafe work
    • A worker newsletter on work at height safety to be issued to 200,000 workers by May

5. Chairman of the National Work at Height Safety Taskforce Mr Wong Weng Sun summed up his Taskforce's work, "The new SCAV is an innovative approach to help us reach more workplaces and teach them to implement the FPP. This will help us meet the target of getting all construction worksites and marine companies to put in place the FPP by 2012. To achieve this, we aim to get 50% of these workplaces to implement the FPP by the middle of next year."

6. Mr Suresh Navaratnam, taskforce member and MOM'S OSH Director of Policy, Information and Corporate Services added, "Preventing Work at height accidents is a key priority for MOM. With up to 3,000 visits over the next three months, we believe we can make our presence felt and motivate industry to better manage WAH safety. We will review the outcome of the visits after June and determine the need to continue these intensified checks for the rest of the year."

Updates on initiatives by National Crane Safety Taskforce

7. The National Crane Safety Taskforce updates on its initiatives under the three key strategies announced earlier to improve crane safety standards:

  1. Enhance Competencies and Capabilities
    • As the crane operator has an important role in the safety of crane operations, the Taskforce is developing a series of half-day Crane Safety Awareness Workshops for all operators by end of 2010. MOM will require all crane operators to show proof of workshop attendance before renewal of operator licenses7.
    • Review of all training courses for members of the lifting team (Crane Operator, Lifting Supervisor, Rigger and Signalman) is underway. Enhanced course for lifting supervisors will be rolled out by August 2010, the rest by early 2011.
  2. Enhance Awareness of key issues
    • A circular on crane maintenance was sent to all crane suppliers, owners and authorised examiners in January 2010.
    • A crane workshop on 29 March 2010 for 200 key players planned.
    • A series of bus advertisements in April 2010 to promote crane safety and prompt public to report unsafe work.
    • A Safe Crane Operations Kit will be developed and shared with the industry by end 2010.
  3. Enhance Code of Practice and Legislation
    • MOM is working with the Taskforce to review the existing Factories (Operation of Cranes) Regulations8.
    • The WSH Council will enhance the Technical Advisory for Lifting Operations to highlight the entire process of managing cranes from erection to dismantling as well as the Lifting Plan. The new advisory will likely be issued as an Approved Code of Practice within a year.

7. National Crane Safety Taskforce Chairman Mr Tan Wee Seng said, "Lifting operations involve many parties who need to work closely and seamlessly to ensure a safe and smooth process. Our crane operators, supervisors and workers need to be better equipped to manage such work well. Besides training, planning is also equally important. Hence, the lifting plan will be a key piece in our development of guidance materials."

8. Taskforce member and Deputy Director at MOM's Occupational Safety and Health Specialists Mr Chan Yew Kwong highlighted the need for caution every step of the way. He said, "Cranes are huge machines and work involving cranes is complex and therefore, must be managed with great care. Industry must ensure proper planning in the whole crane process, from setting up to lifting work to dismantling. The team involved in the work must also be properly trained to ensure smooth crane operations, and more importantly, prevent incidents and the unnecessary loss of life."

About the Ministry of Manpower

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) aspires to develop a globally competitive workforce and a great workplace, for a cohesive society and a secure economic future for all Singaporeans. For more information, please visit MOM's website.

About the Workplace Safety and Health Council

The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council was established on 1 April 2008. It comprises leaders from major industry sectors (including construction, manufacturing, petrol-chemical and logistics), the Government, unions and professionals from legal, insurance and academic fields. The Council works closely with both government and industry stakeholders to raise WSH standards in Singapore to realise the national vision to create safe and healthy workplaces for everyone. These include the Ministry of Manpower, other Government agencies, industry, unions and professional associations. The Council’s main functions are to build capabilities to manage WSH, promote WSH, recognize companies with good WSH records and set acceptable WSH practices. More about the WSH Council can be found on WSHC's website.

1 The National Crane Safety Taskforce and National Work at Height Taskforce were formed in 2009 and had earlier announced initial plans to address the two areas of concern on 10 September and 2 December respectively.

2 In the recently announced 2009 WSH Statistics Report, the incidents involving such work saw 32 fatalities amongst a total of 70. Overall, the construction and marine sectors accounted for most of the fatalities for these two areas of work. Please see Annex A and Annex B for the statistics. Both work at height and crane-related work have been identified as the Programme-based Engagement (ProBE) areas for 2010. ProBE refers to focus areas that will see heightened engagement and education by the WSH Council and more enforcement checks by MOM.

3 Annex A-Table 3 shows that roofworks is the second most common types of fatal falls, accounting for almost 20% of all fatal falls from 2006 to 2009.

4 Inspections will likely cover large and medium-size workplaces or companies and those with more prevalent WAH risks.

5 SCAV will likely cover smaller workplaces which require more help to put in place WAH measures. See Annex D for details on the SCAV.

6 Symposium will involve WAH experts, both locally and from overseas

7 Crane operator licences have to be renewed every two years.

8 The review will cover (i) the Roles and responsibilities of Lifting personnel; (ii) Coverage of workplaces and (iii) Management of Lifting Operations.