2021 Workplace Safety Performance Comparable to Pre-COVID Levels
The number of workplace fatalities decreased from 39 in 20191 to 37 in 2021, despite the spate of fatal accidents in Feb 2021 which resulted in 11 fatalities. Overall, this translates to a similar workplace fatality rate of 1.1 per 100,000 workers in both years. This puts us on track to meeting our Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) 2028 target of achieving a workplace fatality rate of below 1.0 per 100,000 workers, an outcome only achieved by four countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).2
2 Major injuries also declined slightly from 629 in 2019 to 610 in 2021. Taking into account the smaller workforce in 2021, however, the major injury rate in 2021 increased slightly to 18.5 injuries per 100,000 workers - up from 18.1 in 2019.
3 Under new provisions in the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) that took effect from 1 September 2020, employers now need to report all work injuries leading to any instance of medical leave or transfer to light duties. Previously, only injuries resulting in four or more days of medical leave had to be reported. This change allows for more comprehensive reporting of injuries.
4 With this change, there was a total of 21,539 minor injuries in 2021, of which 9,420 were injuries resulting in three or fewer days of medical leave or light duties. The minor injury rate was 653 per 100,000 workers in 2021. The minor injury rate, adjusted to 2019 basis3, was 368 per 100,000 workers in 2021 - a slight decrease from 376 in 2019.
Top cause continues to be Vehicular Incidents
5 There were 11 fatal vehicular incidents in 2021, of which six were work-related traffic accidents (WRTAs).4 Three of the WRTAs were due to the negligence of other road users who were not at work at the material time, while there were no accidents of a similar nature in 2019.
Major and Minor Injuries
Slips, Trips and Falls remain the leading cause of non-fatal injuries
6 Slips, Trips and Falls (STFs) remain the top cause of non-fatal injuries. The number of STF-related major injuries fell from 216 in 2019 to 208 in 2021. Following the new basis of reporting, there were 5,785 STF-related minor injuries in 2021. Adjusted to 2019 basis, STF-related minor injuries fell to 3,565 in 2021 from 3,694 in 2019.
7 Machinery-related incidents were another common cause - accounting for 63 major injuries in 2021, down from 82 in 2019. There were 3,162 machinery-related minor injuries in 2021. Adjusted to 2019 basis, machinery-related minor injuries fell to 1,965 in 2021, from 2,198 in 2019.
Injuries by Industry
Construction, Transportation & Storage and Manufacturing continue to be top sectoral contributors
8 Construction and Transportation & Storage accounted for the highest number of fatalities, with 13 and nine respectively in 2021. Collectively, they accounted for about 60% of all workplace fatalities in 2021.
9 The workplace fatality rate for the Transportation & Storage industry increased to 3.6 per 100,000 workers in 2021, up from 3.1 in 2019. In the Construction industry, the workplace fatality rate increased to 3.3 per 100,000 workers in 2021, up from 2.9 in 2019.
10 Manufacturing and Construction jointly accounted for 44% of all major injuries in 2021. The workplace major injury rate for the Manufacturing industry also rose to 36.4 per 100,000 workers in 2021, from 34.1 in 2019.
Fewer Dangerous Occurrences, with collapse/failure of structures and equipment continuing to be main cause
11 The number of dangerous occurrences (DOs5) decreased from 21 in 2019 to 13 in 2021. Nine of the occurrences were due to collapse or failures of structures and equipment, of which eight were from the construction sector.
Occupational Diseases incidence rate rose
12 The Occupational Diseases (ODs) incidence rate increased to 20 cases per 100,000 workers in 2021, from 15 in 2020 and 14.8 in 2019. This increase was largely from medical assessments and cases delayed from 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders and noise-induced deafness continued to be the leading OD types, jointly accounting for 83% of the total number of ODs in 2021.
Creating safer workplaces
13 There was a spike in the half-yearly fatality rate to 0.7 per 100,000 workers in 1H 2021 (up from 0.4 in 2H 2020). However, with the support of the industries, the rate returned to 0.4 in 2H 2021. MOM will continue to address the leading causes of fatal accidents by leveraging technology (e.g. collision alert systems and rider behaviour monitoring systems) to address vehicular-related accidents, and strengthening enforcement and engagement efforts to address falls from height. A workgroup had been set up by the Workplace Safety and Health Council in Oct 2021 to look into enhancing the safety of delivery service workers. We will also step up efforts to address major injury trends this year. MOM will share more details at a later date.
Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls (STFs), enhancing enforcement on STF hazards
14 Based on MOM’s analysis, STF from floor/level surfaces contributed to more than half (52%) of STF fatal and major injuries. Employers and workers can prevent STF injuries by taking simple steps such as wearing non-slip shoes, removing clutter in work areas and putting up warning signages at areas with STF risks. To complement these measures, MOM encourages industries to adopt technology solutions such as slip meters, use of artificial intelligence (AI) wearables and video analytics to detect and reduce STF accidents. MOM will also step up inspections on companies that are more prone to STF hazards, with inspections focusing not only on observing physical conditions but also checking the adequacy of risk assessment and safety procedures.
Strengthening safe use of machinery
15 MOM will focus on enhancing the safe use of machinery, particularly in the manufacturing industry. This will be done through stronger enforcement actions, such as heavier fines, against offending companies and individuals. We will continue engaging the industry to raise awareness of safe work procedures and safety measures that are often overlooked for tasks such as the clearing of chokes or maintenance of machines.
Enhancing upstream risk control of hazards
16 The Workplace Health Surveillance programme (WHS+) will be enhanced to ensure that companies implement effective upstream risk control measures to prevent ODs. Today, there is a heavy reliance on mitigation through the use of personal protective equipment, rather than reducing or eliminating exposure. This is why MOM will target at-risk workplaces with noise hazards and exposure to hazardous chemicals (including combustible dust) and support such companies to put in place appropriate workplace health programmes to reduce or eliminate exposure to their workers.
Enhancing training for incoming workers
17 With the inflow of migrant workers to address manpower shortages in the industry, it is vital that incoming workers (especially newer workers without experience) are properly trained and equipped to perform their roles safely. To address this, MOM and the WSH Council have expanded the construction safety orientation course to incorporate experiential training. Workers will be trained in a construction site simulator with physical mock-ups. MOM is also working with training providers to ensure sufficient capacity to support upcoming worker inflows.
18 Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health and Divisional Director of MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, Mr Silas Sng, said: “While we recognise the manpower and cost challenges the industries are facing, companies must remain committed to protecting their workers’ safety and health. Risk assessment is the cornerstone of preventing workplace accidents, so I urge all companies to take your risk assessment seriously and implement proper risk control measures.”