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Overall Drop in Workplace Injuries and Occupational Diseases in 2009

WSH Council calls on industry to take timely re-look at impact of WSH practices on business productivity

1.   The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council’s 2009 WSH Statistics Report shows a drop in occupational diseases and workplace injuries reported across the board for 2009.  Occupational diseases fell by over 45% and the total number of work injuries dropped by 2.1% .  This is the first drop in overall work injuries reported since 2006.  Alongside this drop, the accident frequency rate also saw a drop from 1.9 per million manhours worked in 2008 to 1.8 in 2009.

2.   The number of fatalities, however, saw a 4.5% increase.  The workplace fatality rate also saw a slight rise from 2.8 deaths per 100,000 persons employed in 2008 to 2.9 in 2009.  This is the first increase since 2005 and reflects the need to strengthen efforts on key factors that contribute to workplace fatalities.

3.   While the accident severity rate at 112 man-days lost per million man-hours was the same as in 2008, there was a 3.3% increase  in actual man-days lost due to serious incidents.

WSH Statistics Report – overall numbers

4.   The Report shows a drop in occupational diseases, temporary and permanent disablements and (see Table 1).  While this came alongside an overall reduction in work activities during the 2009 recession, the overall injury and occupational disease incidence rates also saw a drop (see Table 2).

  2009 2008 Increase/Drop
Overall Workplace Injuries 10,834 11,072
Fatal 70 67
Permanent Disablement 126 132
Temporary Disablement 10,638 10,873
Occupational Diseases 468 855

Table 1

  2009 2008
Overall Workplace Injury Rate3 446 469
Fatal 2.9 2.8
Permanent Disablement 5.2 5.6
Temporary Disablement 438 460
Occupational Disease Incidence4 19.3 36.2

Table 2

WSH Statistics Report – Over view of Fatalities by Sectors

5.   The increase in the number of work fatalities is seen across a few sectors.  The more notable ones are construction (from 25 fatalities in 2008 to 31 in 2009), and metalworking (from 3 fatalities in 2008 to 6 in 2009) as well as one multi-fatality case from an engineering activity .  Several sectors that did not have any fatalities in 2008 contributed to 10 cases in 2009.  These include the hotels and restaurants sector, landscape care and maintenance service activities sector and administrative and support service activities.

6.   The construction and marine sectors accounted for most of the fatalities (63%) in 2009.  Employment in construction rose by 25,100  due to continued high level of work activities, accompanied by a 17% increase in its overall 2009 fatality rate from 2008.  The marine sector had the same number of fatalities in 2008 and 2009, but with lower employment numbers saw the fatality rate rise from 9.2 to to 11.1 per 100,000 employed persons, a 21% increase from 2008.  Details are in Table 3 below. For the WSH Statistics Report 2009, please refer to Annex A.

Industry 2009 (numbers) 2008 (numbers) 2009 (rate) 2008 (rate)
All Sectors 70 67 2.9 2.8
Construction 31 25 8.1 6.9
Marine 13 13 11.1 9.2
Manufacturing 11 13 2.6 2.9
Metalworking 6 3 5.4 2.5
Water Supply, Sewerage & Waste Management 1 5 10.1 52.1
Logistics & Transportation 3 6 3.4 6.5
Hotels & Restaurants 2 0 1.1 0
Landscape Care & Maintenace Service Activities 1 0 11.5 0
Other Sectors 8 5 0.7 0.5
Architectural & Engineering Activities 4 0 8.5 0
Administrative & Support Service Activities 3 0 2.3 0
Wholesale & Retail Trade 1 1 0.2 0.2

Table 3

Comments from WSH Council and Ministry of Manpower

7.   WSH Council Chairman Lee Tzu Yang said, "While we can take heart that the overall number of work injuries has gone down, we are deeply concerned about the increase in work fatalities.  We must pay attention to both higher hazard sectors such as construction and marine and less familiar sectors such as hotels and other service activities.  This year’s report is also significant as the rise in fatalities also led to a rise in manhours lost due to serious incidents.  WSH and productivity are closely intertwined.  Having safer practices and outcomes will certainly contribute to productivity gains for industries.  The WSH Council calls on industry to take a timely relook at their WSH practices.  They must do more to keep workers safe at work, prevent unnecessary loss of life, while playing a role to drive productivity."

8.   MOM’s Commissioner for WSH Ho Siong Hin reiterated the Ministry’s enforcement strategy, "To address the 63% of the fatalities that came from the construction and marine sectors, MOM will focus our enforcement checks in these industries in the months ahead, covering both large and small companies.  In our checks, besides on-site conditions, we will also look closely at whether companies have taken adequate measures to implement proper WSH systems, practices and employee training.  We will also like to remind all employees to do their part to strictly follow WSH rules to ensure their own safety and that of their co-workers.  Any party found to have violated WSH regulations will be taken to task."