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New Work at Height Training Course Unveiled

Training and enhanced MOM inspections part of two-pronged approach to prevent work at height fatalities

02 August 2010

  1. Falls from height remain a top killer at the worksite. In the first half of this year alone, there were 10 deaths from fatal falls1, compared to 11 deaths in the same period last year. The National (WAH) Taskforce, led by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, recommended a two-pronged approach of enhancing intervention measures and building strong capabilities to reduce work at height (WAH) related fatalities earlier this year2. Part of the intervention measures include stepped up inspections by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

    2,000 worksites inspected Island wide, 185 companies fined and 22 worksites slapped with stop work orders
  2. Over three months, MOM conducted WAH inspections at over 2,000 worksites islandwide3. More than 1,800 safety violations were uncovered at these worksites. The workplaces inspected involved mainly those who have either had a WAH incident before or have more WAH risks in their workplaces or projects. Arising from the inspections, 185 companies were fined and 22 worksites were issued with stop work orders. For more details on the common safety lapses uncovered during the inspections, please refer to Annex A. MOM will continue its inspections island wide to arrest unsafe work practices and ensure workers safety is not compromised.

    WAH Training key for workplace safety
  3. The inspections also underscored the need for more training. Mr Suresh Navaratnam, MOM's Occupational Safety & Health Director of Policy, Information and Corporate Services, said, "Our inspections highlighted that more can and needs to be done to save unnecessary loss of lives due to WAH accidents. Industry players need to be alert to the problems they have at their workplaces and take immediate action. Those who require assistance to properly manage their WAH risks are strongly encouraged to contact the WSH Council to find out how they can actively upskill themselves to manage WAH safety. As we intensify our inspections across the island, we will also be on the ground assessing companies' willingness to improve on such unsafe work practices and encourage them to go for training, where needed."

    New WAH training course for line supervisors
  4. In line with the National WAH Taskforce's strategy, a new and first-of-its-kind training course to build capabilities for line supervisors has been rolled out since mid July 2010. The "WAH Course for Supervisors", is aimed at tackling unsafe work at height practices on the ground, starting with the supervisors. Supervisors play a critical role to reduce work at height risks in our workplaces as they are directly responsible for many workers on the ground and can make the most immediate impact to how work is carried out. Comprising of both the theoretical and practical aspects, the-2 day course will bring supervisors through a wide range of topics. These range from fall protection system to equipment to Risk Assessment to Safe Work Procedures as well as incident investigations and emergency planning. In line with the national push for the full implementation of Fall Protection Plans (FPP) in worksites and shipyards by next year, line supervisors undergoing this course will be able to help implement such plans on site. Refer to Annex B for more information on the new training programme.
  5. To support the implementation of this new training MOM has accredited three new training providers for WAH training. Capital Safety Asia Group Pte Ltd, Asretec Pte Ltd and QMT Industrial and Safety Pte Ltd have been designated as providers to carry out this new training of line supervisors4. More information on the training providers can be found in Annex C.
  6. National WAH Taskforce Chairman Mr Wong Weng Sun elaborated more at a WSH Council Forum for 400 line supervisors, "The Taskforce is committed to implementing the FPP at all workplaces to prevent fatal falls. We urge companies to sign up at least one line supervisor for this new course. Supervisors must be adequately trained to be able to instruct workers to conduct work at height activities safely."

    Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAVs) a hit with smaller players
  7. Another Taskforce intervention initiative that has been well received by the smaller players in the construction sector is the SCAV. About 2,000 supervisors and workers have been reminded on the correct use of fall protection equipment in 600 worksites visited by the SCAVs5. The visits essentially focused on how effectively the Fall Protection Plans were implemented. Spurred by the success of this initiative and calls by industry for more such visits, the SCAVs will visit another 400 worksites by end of this month. See Annex D for photos of the SCAV visits.

    MOM will not hesitate to take stern action
  8. MOM reminds companies that failure to ensure workplace safety can result in them being 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 Of the 25 fatalities from the period January to June 2010, there were 10 fall from height related fatalities.

2 See here for the recommendations announced by the National WAH Taskforce.

3 Operations Sky Hawk II was conducted from April – June 2010 at over 2,000 construction and manufacturing worksites.

4 For more information on the course and fees, companies are encouraged to approach the three accredited training providers directly.

5 The SCAVs visited 600 smaller worksites from April to June 2010. Another 400 smaller worksites will be visited by August 2010.