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Fewer Fatalities but More Non-Fatal Injuries in First Half of 2019

There were 17 workplace fatalities in 1H 2019, fewer than the 23 in 2H 2018 and 18 in 1H 2018. This was the lowest absolute number of workplace fatalities since 2012, when fatality data for all workplaces was tracked. The 12-month rolling fatal injury rate remained at 1.2 per 100,000 employed persons as at end June 2019, the same as the rate as at end June 2018 and end December 2018. However, the number of non-fatal workplace injuries increased by 8 percent from 6,073 cases in 1H 2018 to 6,561 cases in 1H 2019.

 

FATAL INJURIES

Leading causes are ‘Falls from Height’, ‘Vehicular-related Incidents’ and ‘Collapse or Failure of Structure and Equipment’

2          Falls from height remained a key concern with four fatalities in 1H 2019. This was one fatality more than in 1H 2018. Two falls from height occurred in the Construction industry. Fatalities due to the collapse or failure of structure and equipment increased from one case in 1H 2018 to three cases in 1H 2019, while vehicular-related fatalities remained at four cases in both 1H 2018 and 1H 2019.

 

MAJOR AND MINOR INJURIES

‘Slips, Trips and Falls’ and ‘Machinery-Related Incidents’ remained as leading causes of major and minor incidents

3          Slips, trips and falls (STF) remained as the top cause of both major and minor injuries. While major injuries arising from STF decreased from 111 in 1H 2018 to 87 in 1H 2019, STF-related minor injuries increased by eight percent from 1,630 in 1H 2018 to 1,757 in 1H 2019. Although STF accidents can happen anywhere, simple control measures such as proper housekeeping can help to prevent STF.

 

4          Closer attention should also be paid to reducing machinery-related incidents, the second most common cause of major and minor injuries. Machinery-related major injuries rose from 35 cases in 1H 2018 to 41 cases in 1H 2019. Similarly, machinery-related minor-injuries spiked from 956 cases in 1H 2018 to 1,066 cases in 1H 2019.

 

INJURIES BY INDUSTRIES

Vigilance needed in Construction, Manufacturing and Transportation & Storage industries

5          The performance of the Construction and Manufacturing industries did not improve significantly. The Construction industry contributed 67 cases of fatal and major injuries in 1H 2019, while the Manufacturing industry contributed 66 cases. Greater vigilance is also needed in the Transportation and Storage industry, where fatal and major injuries rose from 22 in 1H 2018 to 35 in 1H 2019.

 

6          In addition, major injuries have become more evenly spread across diverse industries, with more major injuries seen in the lower-risk industries of Accommodation and Food Services (from 16 in 1H 2018 to 34 in 1H 2019), Wholesale and Retail Trade (from 15 in 1H 2018 to 21 in 1H 2019) and Professional Services (from 5 in 1H 2018 to 10 in 1H 2019).

 

DANGEROUS OCCURRENCES AND OCCUPATIONAL DISEASES

7         The number of DOs, which are incidents with a high potential for multiple fatalities, fell from 10 cases in 1H 2018 to eight in 1H 2019. Five were due to collapse or failure of structures and equipment, while the other three were due to fires and explosions. The Construction industry remained the top contributor for the DOs (four cases).

 

8          The total number of ODs fell by 11% from 295 OD cases in 1H 2018 to 263 OD cases in 1H 2019. The top three ODs in 1H 2019 were Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSD) (144 cases), Noise Induced Deafness (NID) (90 cases) and Occupational Skin Diseases (23 cases). WRMSD cases decreased from 160 in 1H 2018 to 144 in 1H 2019, and NID cases decreased from 102 in 1H 2018 to 90 in 1H 2019. However, the number of cases of Occupational Skin Disease increased slightly from 21 in 1H 2018 to 23 in 1H 2019.

 

ENGAGEMENT EFFORTS AND ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS

9          The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will sustain its inspections targeting workplaces more prone to fatal and major injuries. In the first half of 2019, MOM conducted around 2,500 inspections, which uncovered more than 4,300 WSH contraventions. A total of 29 Stop-Work Orders (SWO) was issued with an average duration of four weeks. Composition fines amounting to a total of S$680,000 were imposed on close to 300 companies during this period.

 

10        For the second half of 2019, MOM plans to conduct another 2,500 inspections targeting priority industries such as Construction, Manufacturing and Transportation and Storage. MOM will also be conducting 400 inspections in the Accommodation and Food Services, and Wholesale and Retail Trade industries which saw a rise in major injuries.

 

11        To raise industry capabilities to better manage WSH risks, the WSH Council will be providing WSH consultancy services to approximately 1,200 companies with major injury records in the past three years. This will be complemented by sustained engagements through a series of campaigns and forums to raise public awareness on these risks.

 

12        To address the rising number of non-fatal injuries, MOM is in the midst of implementing the recommendations of the WSH2028 Tripartite Strategies Committee to align WSH outcomes more closely to commercial interest and cultivate safety awareness among a more diverse range of industries.

 

13        Director of Policy, Information and Corporate Services Department Mr Christopher Koh said, “It is encouraging that the first half of 2019 recorded the lowest half-yearly number of fatalities. However, we cannot be complacent as non-fatal injuries continue to rise, including in industries that were previously less accident-prone. To achieve pervasive WSH awareness across more industries, we have recently amended the Work Injury Compensation Act to share claims data with all insurers.  This will help safer companies benefit from lower premiums. We will also publish injury statistics of companies, starting with the construction industry in 2020, so that safer companies will stand a better chance at securing business." 

FOOTNOTE

  1. For fatalities due to the collapse or failure of structure and equipment: two were due to crane failures and one was due to a collapse of a floor slab.