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National Work at Height Movement Launched to Push for Zero Falls at Workplaces

22 March 2011

  1. Following a year of intense efforts to prevent fatal falls at work, the latest WSH statistics released last week showed that Falls from Heights (FFH) cases fell from 22 in 2009 to 18 in 2010, an 18% drop. FFH, however, accounted for 33% of all fatalities, making it the top workplace killer in 20101.
  2. To galvanise continued efforts to reduce injuries and fatalities, a new National Work at Height movement will be in place. The movement will create synergy and long-term improvements through sustained efforts from all parties. This includes a series of new and enhanced measures by the National WAH Taskforce2 to build capabilities, engage the workforce and promote the implementation of a Fall Prevention Plan at workplaces.

    WAH Movement
  3. The new national Work at Height (WAH) Movement will be represented by a new logo which can be prominently displayed or seen at workplaces in the next few months. Thousands of stickers and WAH Safety Boards bearing WAH safety tips and the movement logo "Safe Work at Height, Towards Zero Falls" will be sent out to worksites. It aims to encourage supervisors and workers to reduce work at height risks and work towards the long term goal of zero falls at workplaces, thus eliminating FFH fatalities. The WAH Safety Board3 will also provide a platform for supervisors to brief workers during daily toolbox meetings.

    New WAH Supervisor Network
  4. A new WAH Supervisor network has also been formed with more than 1,200 supervisors who have attended the WAH Course for Supervisors since it was launched in August 2010. This network of supervisors will serve as a multiplier effect as they can help educate the workers under their charge, effectively extending the reach from 1,200 supervisors to some 12,000 workers4. To aid them in this effort, regular WAH updates and information will be provided to them via a newly created WAH Supervisor Facebook page5 and e-bulletins.

    Safety Orientation Course to be reviewed
  5. The Taskforce will also be working with the WSH Council to review the Construction Safety Orientation Course. It aims to expand the curriculum with more practical and visual training on WAH safety. This will ensure that workers are more adequately trained on how to manage WAH risks before they start work. A WAH training video is also being developed for existing workers.

    Stepping up on SCAVs
  6. At the same time, the Taskforce will step up Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAVs) in providing practical assistance for small and medium size worksites to build capability for better WAH management on site. More than 900 smaller construction worksites visited last year showed improvements during subsequent visits. In 2011, more than 1,500 SCAVs will be conducted.
  7. The SCAVs will also help to encourage workplaces to implement a Fall Prevention Plan (FPP). The FPP is a systematic plan to help workplaces manage their WAH risks, so as to protect workers who are involved in such work. It was first introduced by the National WAH Taskforce through the WSH Council’s Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) on Working Safely at Height in Dec 20096.
  8. Mr Wong Weng Sun, Chairman of the National Work at Height Taskforce, welcomed the formation of the new WAH movement. He said, "The movement is a concerted and pragmatic approach to get all stakeholders onboard and take active action to prevent fatal falls at work. The Taskforce believes that we can achieve zero falls if all workplaces conscientiously implement a Fall Prevention Plan to protect their employees, as well as educate supervisors and workers. This will be a good start. Businesses will benefit as WAH incidents can incur huge costs, affect employee morale and productivity. We urge the industry to leverage on the resources and assistance provided to improve their WAH management and "push for zero" together."

1 Full reports of the WSH Statistics for 2010 can be found here 2 The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) formed a National Work at Height (WAH) Safety Taskforce in August 2009 to address the concern of falls from heights (FFH) at workplaces.
3 The WAH Safety Board is a life-size notice board to be placed in worksites. It carries important WAH messages to remind workers of the need to follow safe work procedures when working at height. The board also provides a white board that supervisors can use in their daily toolbox meetings, hence, serving as a useful addition for workers to be educated on site prior to carrying out work activities for the day.
4 Each supervisor has at least 10 workers under his charge.
5 The facebook page is at this link
6 The ACOP provided recommendations to the industry on the implementation of FPP at workplaces. It emphasised the use of risk management framework to identify and control the hazards associated with work at height. It also describes and illustrates a variety of fall control measures and devices which can be adopted for use when risk of falling is present. The ACOP is available here.