Workplace Injuries in 1H 2021 Comparable to Pre-COVID Levels
The workplace injuries rate in the first half (1H) of 2021 was comparable to pre-COVID levels (193 injuries vs 205 injuries per 100,000 workers in 2H 2019). The workplace fatality rate in 1H 2021 has also remained similar to pre-COVID levels (0.7 fatalities vs 0.6 fatalities per 100,000 in 2H 2019).
2 As a result of the gradual resumption of workplace activities since the second quarter of 2020, the number of workplace injuries and fatalities in 1H 2021 has increased slightly when compared with 2H 2020. The number of injuries in 1H 2021 was 6,411 (from 6,293 in 2H 2020), while fatalities was 23 (from 13 in 2H 2020). The 6-month workplace fatality rate increased to 0.7 per 100,000 workers in 1H 2021 from 0.4 per 100,000 workers in 2H 2020.
3 Despite the fluctuations, significant progress has been made pre-COVID to bring down workplace injuries. Everyone has a part to play to meet our goal of reducing and sustaining Singapore’s annual workplace fatality rate to below 1.0 per 100,000 workers by 2028, an outcome consistently achieved by only four Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries1.
Top causes continue to be Vehicular Incidents and Falls from Height
4 Vehicular Incidents and Falls from Height continue to be a key concern with six and four fatalities respectively in 1H 2021. Of the six vehicular-related fatalities, four were work-related traffic accidents (WRTAs) involving delivery or dispatch riders. Of these, three were due to the negligence of other road users.
Major and Minor Injuries
Slips, Trips and Falls remain the leading cause of non-fatal injuries
5 Slips, Trips and Falls (STFs) remain the top cause of injuries. The number of STF-related major injuries increased slightly to 113 in 1H 2021, from 103 in 2H 2020. On the other hand, STF-related minor injuries fell from 1,846 in 2H 2020 to 1,753 in 1H 2021.
6 Machinery-related incidents were another common cause of injuries, accounting for 33 major injuries in 1H 2021, up from 30 in 2H 2020, and 968 minor injuries in 1H2021, up from 912 minor injuries in 2H 2020.
Injuries by Industry
Construction, Transportation & Storage, and Manufacturing continue to be top contributors
7 The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is paying close attention to the Manufacturing industry which saw a 6-month workplace fatality rate of 1.0 per 100,000 workers, or four fatalities, in 1H 2021, compared to 0.8, or three fatalities, in 2H 2020. It also had the highest number of non-fatal injuries, with 80 major injuries and 1,364 minor injuries in 1H 2021.
8 Construction and Transportation & Storage accounted for the highest number of fatalities, with seven fatalities each in 1H 2021. Collectively, they accounted for over 60% of all fatalities in 1H 2021.
9 The 6-month workplace fatality rate for the Construction industry increased to 1.7 per 100,000 workers in 1H 2021, from 1.2 in 2H 2020. In the Transportation & Storage industry, the 6-month workplace fatality rate increased to 2.8 per 100,000 workers in 1H 2021, from zero in 2H 2020.
Collapse/Failure of structures and equipment continue to be main cause of Dangerous Occurrences
10 The number of dangerous occurrences (DOs2) increased from six in 2H 2020 to seven in 1H 2021 as business activities continue to ramp up. Six of the occurrences were due to collapse or failures of structures and equipment, while one was due to a fire and explosion incident at Tuas which resulted in three fatalities and seven injuries.
Work-related Musculoskeletal disorders continued to be the leading cause of Occupational Diseases
11 The Occupational Diseases (ODs) incidence rate grew to 12.1 cases per 100,000 workers in 1H 2021, from 9.9 in 2H 2020. This increase was largely due to work-related COVID-19 cases, and delayed medical assessment due to COVID-19 disruptions. Work-related Musculoskeletal disorders and noise-induced deafness remained the leading cause of ODs, jointly accounting for 68% of the total number of ODs in 1H 2021.
Working towards safer workplaces for all
12 The spate of fatal accidents in 1H 2021 is a cause for concern. MOM urges companies to prioritise workplace safety and health, even as they manage manpower constraints and project schedules.
13 To reinforce this, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council partnered industry associations and unions to conduct Safety Time-Out exercises in March and June 2021. Employers were strongly encouraged to review control measures and workers to follow safe work procedures. The WSH Council has also worked with training providers to provide online courses to workers so that WSH training is not disrupted.
Ensuring companies implement adequate safety measures through increase in enforcement operations
14 Following the spate of fatal accidents in 1H 2021, MOM has also stepped-up enforcement operations. This includes operations which focused on:
(a) Combustible dust at workplaces, following the Tuas explosion incident. More than 500 companies were inspected, with three found to have inadequate control measures in place and issued with Stop-Work Orders.
(b) High-risk sectors such as manufacturing and construction, with a focus on machinery safety, involving over 500 inspections from May to July 2021. 70% of these resulted in contraventions being uncovered. Top contraventions included poorly maintained machinery/equipment, inadequate guarding of machinery, ineffective barricades/guard-rails and unsafe stacking of materials.
Enhancing vehicular safety for riders
15 To address the rising number of WRTAs, a Food and Courier Delivery Workgroup has been formed, comprising tripartite partners including the WSH Council, the National Delivery Champions Association and companies such as GrabFood and Singpost. The Workgroup will discuss progressive practices that employers and intermediaries can adopt, such as safety training for new riders.
16 MOM has also started to identify emerging rider safety technology solutions such as collision alert systems and rider behaviour monitoring systems. These will be test-bedded with logistics and food delivery companies. An enforcement operation on vehicular safety will be conducted from October to November 2021, targeting transportation and storage, construction, and manufacturing, where workplace traffic hazards are common.
Maintaining Focus on Slips, Trips and Falls
17 The WSH Council launched the Slips, Trips and Falls campaign in June to educate employers and workers on the prevention of STF injuries. To complement this, MOM will continue to identify and promote technology solutions, such as slip meters, use of AI wearables, and vision analytics to detect and reduce STF accidents.
18 Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health and Divisional Director of MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, Mr Silas Sng, said, “The spate of fatal accidents this year, including February’s explosion in Tuas that resulted in multiple casualties, serves as a reminder of the catastrophic consequences when safety practices are ignored or compromised. As companies continue to navigate the challenging operating environment in the midst of this pandemic, I urge all companies to review their risk assessments and control measures to protect the safety and health of their workers.”