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12 Work at Height deaths in 2011 - Call for more collaboration with industry to improve Work at Height Safety

30 June 2011

  1. In 2010, falls from height were the top workplace killer, contributing about 33%1 of all work fatalities, up from 31% in 2009. More than half of these Work at Height (WAH) fatalities were from the Construction sector (see Table 1).

    Construction Marine Logistics & Transport Water Supply, Sewerage & Waste Mgmt Other Sectors Total
    Falls from height 10 (55.6%) 4 (22.2%) 2 (11%) 1 (5.6%) 1 (5.6%) 18
    Table 1: Number of fall from height fatalities by industry in 2010 (Source: Workplace Safety and Health Report 2010)
  2. Since the beginning of 2011, 12 workers have died from fatal falls; with the construction sector remaining the top contributor to all WAH fatalities (33%). Preliminary findings have revealed that 7 out of the 12 workplaces involved in the fatalities have not implemented a Fall Prevention Plan (FPP)2. Even though the remaining workplaces have a FPP in place, their inadequate implementation could not prevent the tragic incidents from taking place. The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council-led National Work at Height (WAH) Safety Taskforce is concerned with this trend and will intensify its efforts to prevent recurrences through greater collaboration with industry partners. For a breakdown of the number on fatal falls by industry and accident type, please refer to Annex A.

    Implementation of the Fall Prevention Plan for all Marine and Construction Workplaces by end-2011
  3. The National WAH Safety Taskforce recognises the importance of implementing a FPP as a key accident prevention tool at worksites. The implementation of FPP at worksites has been encouraging, with more than 1 in 2 construction worksites visited by MOM in the first six months of 2011 having a FPP in place. This is up from 30% in year 2010. With the support of the industry, the Taskforce has recommended to move forward its target of achieving 100% FPP implementation at all Construction and Marine worksites to December this year, from the original deadline of end 2012. To assist various industry stakeholders, the National WAH Safety Taskforce continues to work closely with Industry Associations and the Accredited Training Providers to help worksites to implement FPP. This will be in addition to the assistance already in place, like the Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAVs), WAH Safety Workshops and the WAH Course for Supervisors. Please refer to Annex B for more information about the FPP.

    Industry Role Key in Leading FPP Implementation
  4. The Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) and the Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI) have further taken the lead by aiming to have all their members implement FPP at their workplaces by September 2011, ahead of the year-end target. To achieve the target, SCAL will be organising a series of targeted workshops from July until September this year. Details of the SCAL WAH Awareness Workshops can be found in Annex C.
  5. Echoing the need for industry associations to take a stronger role in driving improvements sector-wide, Mr Wong Weng Sun, Chairman of the National WAH Safety Taskforce and the President of ASMI, said, “Industry associations can build links amongst member companies so that those who are stronger in WSH management can guide the weaker players. In ASMI, for example, we have developed the self-regulatory Marine Industry Safety Engagement Team (MIndSET) programme with some 14 shipyards that conduct inter-company safety walkthroughs to share best practices and advise on WSH implementation. We will incorporate checks on FFP implementation into MIndSET and get more shipyards on board. ASMI members will also be working more closely with their subcontractors to move towards implementing FPP as a crucial element in the overall risk management plan. I strongly urge the industry to implement the FPP immediately as poor management of WAH risks will only hurt both employees and companies, leading to unnecessary loss of lives.”

    ProBE Plus (WAH) 2011 to continue to assist smaller players on key areas
  6. In addition, as part of the ProBE Plus (WAH)3 Programme for 2011, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the WSH Council have earmarked the next quarter to focus intervention efforts targeting roofing works and the Addition and Alteration (A&A) contractors involved in such work. The programme aims to provide this group with practical assistance on capability building and awareness on WAH hazards.

    MOM urges industry to step up in efforts to ensure WAH safety in key areas
  7. Calling on occupiers to step up efforts in ensuring that their contractors adhere to proper safe WAH procedures, the Manpower Ministry’s Director of Policy, Information and Corporate Services, Mr Suresh Navaratnam, said, “The efforts by the National WAH Safety Taskforce to bring forward FPP targets are commendable. This could not have been done without the strong support of SCAL and ASMI. While enforcement continues to assist in this effort, long-term outcomes can only be achieved through awareness, capability-building and a shift in the mindset of the industry. There is a role for main contractors to assist in this area by mentoring smaller companies, perhaps through sponsored WAH capability and awareness training. MOM’s continuing review of the need for WAH regulations will depend on the industry’s ability to self-manage WAH risks. Given the 12 WAH fatalities in recent months, we urge the industry to waste no time in taking action to improve WAH safety.”

1In 2010, there were 18 fatalities involving FFH accidents.

2FPP is a key component of the WSHC Approved Code of Practice for Working Safely at Height that was launched in Aug 2009.

3ProBE Plus or Programme Based Engagement Plus is an enhancement of PoBE and is a national-level intervention programme targeting by MOM and WSHC targeting areas identified as priority or high-risk. A key enhancement is expanding industry collaboration to improve the effectiveness of industry engagement. Falls from height, crane incidents, struck by falling objects, struck by vehicles at work have been identified as priority ProBE Plus areas in 2011 - 2012.

Annex A - Overview of the causal factors involving FFH in 2011 & Overview of Work At Height Fatal Incidents (Jan – Jun 2011)

Annex B - The Fall Prevention Plan

Annex C - SCAL WAH Awareness Workshops