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MOM Takes Action Against 174 Companies for Workplace Safety Violations

06 August 2014 
 
  1. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has taken action against 174 companies for 353 workplace safety violations uncovered during a Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) enforcement operation under the Programme-Based Engagement (ProBE1) Plus 2014 framework announced earlier this year.
  2. During the month-long operation, MOM conducted surprise inspections at 250 worksites in high-risk sectors, including the construction and marine industries. Among these worksites, 60 were issued with fines ranging from $1,000 to $13,000 per inspection, leading to a total of 108 fines being meted out. The Ministry also issued Stop-Work Orders (SWOs) to the occupiers of four worksites with severe WSH lapses.
  3. The enforcement operation focused on compliance with the WSH (Work at Heights) Regulations, which require:

    • Factories listed under the Schedule2 to implement Fall Prevention Plans (FPPs3), and

    • Workplaces classified as factories4 to implement a Permit to Work System (PTW5).

    WAH violations uncovered
  4. The enforcement operation found that Work at Heights (WAH) lapses continued to be a concern (refer to Annex A for photographs of WAH violations). Some common WAH lapses included:

    • Open sides and openings at work areas that were left unguarded;

    • Failing to take reasonably practicable measures to prevent a person from falling during removal of barrier or guard rail; and

    • Lack of safe means of access to and from work areas.
  5. MOM will require the occupiers of the four worksites issued with SWOs to fully rectify the unsafe conditions identified. In addition, where MOM assess that the lack of trained personnel is a contributing factor leading to the SWO, MOM will require workers to undergo refresher training to improve their competency before the SWO can be lifted.

    Industry’s progress in implementing FPP and PTW
  6. The vast majority of the companies inspected were found to have complied with the requirement to implement the FPP and PTW. Findings showed that, among the worksites inspected:

    • 84% have developed and implemented FPPs

    • 77% have established PTW systems to manage their hazardous WAH activities
  7. The implementation of FPPs and PTWs helps employers to identify the fall hazards at a worksite and the control measures necessary to mitigate them. However, companies must still ensure that these and other necessary control measures are effectively implemented on the ground.

    MOM calls on industries to eradicate WAH malpractice
  8. Mr Chan Yew Kwong, Director of MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said, "Our inspections continue to uncover a range of Work At Heights lapses at worksites. In most cases, contractors could have avoided those lapses by carrying out the FPP and PTW processes properly. We urge contractors to take these processes seriously, and also ensure that control measures are implemented to mitigate WAH risks. Falls from heights are still the leading cause of workplace deaths, so this is an area we will continue to focus on. We will not hesitate to take action against errant employers.
  9. 9 MOM reminds companies that under the WSH Act, they may be fined up to $500,000 for the first offence for failing to ensure workplace safety and health. Individuals can also be fined up to $200,000 and/or imprisoned up to 24 months for offences under the Act.

1 Programme-based Engagement (ProBE) Plus aims to raise standards in industries with poor Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) records by partnering them to raise WSH competencies and stakeholder awareness. For more information about ProBE Plus, visit MOM website.
2 Refers to the Schedule of Workplaces Required to Have a Fall Prevention Plan under the WSH (Work at Heights) Regulations. This includes construction worksites, shipyards, petrochemical plants and pharmaceutical plants. 
3 The Fall Prevention Plan (FPP) is a documented site-specific plan prepared for the purpose of reducing or eliminating risk of falling.
4 Refers to the workplaces defined as factories under s5 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act. This includes construction worksites, shipyards, petrochemical plants and pharmaceutical plants.
5 The Permit to Work (PTW) system is a formal documented process used to manage workplace hazards by ensuring all safety measures are in place before work is permitted to commence.