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MOM takes workplace safety seriously

  • Lianhe Zaobao (25 August 2011) : MOM takes workplace safety seriously
  • Lianhe Zaobao (18 August 2011) : The Public Service needs to be reformed too

MOM takes workplace safety seriously
- Lianhe Zaobao, 25 August 2011

We refer to Mr Cheo Chai Chen’s letter “The Public Service needs to be reformed too” (Lianhe Zaobao, 18 August 2011).

2.   On 02 December 2010, the member of the public that Mr Cheo had referred to in his letter called the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) about unsafe work practices at manhole worksites. Unfortunately, the member of the public could not provide details of the location of these worksites. Despite the lack of specific information, the Ministry immediately contacted the telecommunications companies to obtain information on the location of these worksites to commence investigations. It was regrettable that during this period, a fatal accident occurred at a manhole worksite on 6 December 2010.

3.   On 23 December 2010, the Ministry embarked on an island-wide enforcement exercise on worksites with manhole works. . MOM issued a total of 3 Stop-Work Orders and 24 Compound Fines during the exercise. In addition, MOM stepped up enforcement efforts by engaging the companies, main contractors and sub-contractors involved in the manhole works, as well as sharing information on working safely in manhole works. MOM conducted another round of enforcement exercises in mid 2011 on the same worksites to ensure that these companies have addressed the identified unsafe work practices. This time, only 3 Compound Fines were issued – showing a marked improvement in the safety standards at these worksites.

4.   The Ministry will not delay addressing any unsafe work practice when we receive information from any source. MOM encourages such tip-offs as they are helpful in raising workplace safety and health standards. We request those with information to furnish as many details as possible, such as locations and details of the safety lapses, so that we can take swift action to address the safety lapses effectively. Members of the public can call the MOM hotline at (+65) 6317 1111 or email All information shared will be kept strictly confidential.

The Public Service needs to be reformed too
- Lianhe Zaobao, 18 August 2011

PM Lee had re-shuffled the cabinet after the GE, and in a departure from past practices, reviewed and re-enacted strategies to respond to public opinion and serve the people better.

PM's re-shuffling of the cabinet and his sincerity are laudable. However, he has to reform the Public Service as well, or he will waste these efforts. This is because public servants implement government policies, and the government's efficiency and record are determined by their performance.

I will raise a few examples to illustrate and support my perspective:

1. On 9 July last year, a complaint was lodged with a certain Telco that their contractor was not adhering to the Government's safety rules in the carrying out of cabling works. The complaint was that a confined space safety assessor was not appointed by the contractor to evaluate, approve or ensure that workers could enter the manhole to carry out the work safely. Members of the public had also raised the abovementioned concerns to IDA and MOM in September and December respectively. If the authorities had conducted active enforcement actions, the incident involving 3 workers (1 died and 2 were injured) in a manhole on 16 December last at Block 316 Jurong East Avenue 1 could have been prevented.

2. HDB had not replied to a letter published on 28 December 2010 in Lianhe Zaobao, regarding the shifting of the Mr Lim Nee Soon’s statue. Is the agency ignoring public sentiment or do they have something to hide?

3. Nee Soon South Town Council did not take any actions to rectify the problems with the stone table and chair at the void deck study corner under Block 867, even after receiving feedback from residents. Someone’s pants had already been damaged by the problematic table and chair. Why did the Town Council not take action after receiving the feedback? How did the estate management personnel allow such shoddy facilities to be constructed? If young children were being hurt by the table and chair, the consequences would be unthinkable.

4. Certain government departments had not been dilligent in the verifying of educational certificates in the employment of foreigners, leading to incidents involving employment with forged documents. The potential for danger and dire implications cannot be understated if such hires were for positions related to the transfer of knowledge, human safety or other critical areas.