In Case of Accident...
- TODAY, 19 August 2009
We thank Ms Isabel Vadivu Govind for her letter on workplace safety standards ("Transparency needed", 13 August 2009).
2. The Ministry of Manpower, together with the Workplace Safety and Health Council, publishes WSH statistics reports and highlights key workplace safety concerns twice a year. These are available on the Internet (www.mom.gov.sg). The WSH Council also produces a regular e-bulletin, highlighting important learning points from recent real-life accident cases. Members of the public can subscribe to the e-bulletin at www.wshc.gov.sg.
3. We would also like to take the opportunity to correct the erroneous statement by the Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) spokesperson. Contrary to what was reported, MOM issued stop work orders immediately following each of the two fatal accidents at RWS. The contractors were asked to review their safe work procedures and rectify them before seeking MOM's approval to resume work. We fully agree with Ms Isabel that when a serious accident happens, workplaces cannot carry on as if it is "business as usual".
4. In addition, MOM conducts regular, unannounced inspections at worksites, including RWS. Where poor safety conditions are observed, stop work orders will be issued. Given the fatal accidents at the RWS site, MOM is very concerned and is actively working with the contractors and management of RWS to correct all unsafe conditions before work is allowed to resume.
5. The law requires occupiers of construction sites and their contractors to employ registered WSH Officers, Co-ordinators and Supervisors to help manage on-site safety. More stringent requirements are imposed on larger projects, in view of the wider range of activities.
6. Under the law, all employers are also required to report work injuries to MOM within 10 days from the accident, and all workplace fatalities immediately. Those who fail to do so may be fined up to $5,000 for first-time offenders and up to $10,000 and/or up to 6 months of jail term for repeat offenders. Upon notification of the accident, MOM will inform the injured employee of his entitlements under the Work Injury Compensation Act. The majority of work injury claims are settled within six months, including the time needed for serious injuries to stabilise, so that a medical assessment on the extent of permanent incapacity can be made.
7. Workers are informed about their rights under the work injuries compensation regime through the compulsory safety orientation courses. The course content also covers reporting of safety lapses to MOM through our hotline (65) 6317-1111 which is displayed prominently at every worksite, as well as the assurance that such reports are confidential. Workers may report in the languages that they are more comfortable with.
8. In addition, MOM, together with the Workplace Safety and Health Council, also organise regular public education campaigns and roadshows at workplaces and dormitories to educate workers on their rights and responsibilities, as well as the importance of workplace safety and health.
9. We are encouraged by Ms Isabel's interest in workplace safety and hope that others will join her in supporting the improvement of work safety standards here.
- TODAY, 13 August 2009
I REFER to "2nd death at IR construction site" (Aug 10).
I commend the authorities for trying to improve safety at work-sites. But in line with these efforts, I believe there should be transparency on safety-related matters so that the public can also support the initiative.
As such, I have the following concerns:
How was the pipe being moved? If manually, how many workers were carrying the pipe and how many were supposed to be carrying it? What safety protocols were not adhered to? When and where can I, as a concerned Singaporean, get detailed information when the investigation is complete?
What is the ratio of independent safety officers on-site and safety inspectors hired by the company? Who are the independent safety officers accredited with? Are site-checks unannounced? How often do they visit sites?
Is there a confidential hotline manned in languages that foreign construction workers speak, for them to report safety lapses?
Whose responsibility is it to check if the employer has filed a workmen's compensation claim upon a worker's death or injury within the time specified by law?
How informed are these workers about workmen's compensation and what difficulties the workers might face with regards to it?
How many workers have been injured at the IR since work started?
What is the criteria for issuing a stop-work order and is it time for a review? Two deaths in a month on the same site - this does not seem like a case for business as usual.