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Speech at Falls Prevention Campaign Launch 2015

Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State, Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Expo Max Atria

Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, Deputy Chairman, Workplace Safety and Health Council,

WSH Council and Industry Committee members,

Industry partners,

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning.

  1. I am pleased to join you today at the launch of the Falls Prevention Campaign 2015 and I thank you for taking time to participate in this very important event which concerns the life and death of people.

    Launch of the Falls Prevention Campaign 2015
  2. My message for this morning’s Falls Prevention Campaign launch is a simple but serious one: everyone has the responsibility to make the workplace safe, and everyone can do something to make it safe. This morning I wish to focus on 2 important areas which have produced a higher number of fatalities and injuries: they are Falls and Slips, Trips and Falls.
  3. In April, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council launched its annual National WSH Campaign titled “I can prevent all injuries and be healthy at work.” However, some companies do not seem to have taken this campaign seriously and the number of work-related fatalities and injuries in 2015 is higher than last year. There is therefore an urgency to reemphasise this workplace safety message, especially when the holiday season is round the corner when we tend to let our guard down. We know that many of us tend to rush to wrap up our work before we go on our year-end break, while others may be busy managing the greater volume of business that comes with the festive season. 
  4. To give added focus to the Prevention message, the WSH Council is launching a special festive safety campaign focusing on Falls Prevention to remind us that “Small things cause big problems.” This campaign will highlight the importance of not overlooking seemingly “small things” at work such as not cleaning up spilled water on the floor or not putting things back in its rightful place. If we forget these little things, it could lead to “bigger problems”. You could end up slipping on a wet or greasy floor or tripping over tools left behind on the floor at the workshop. These accidents could have easily been prevented if we pay attention to the small things.

    Falls remain a major concern at work
  5. Falls is a major cause for concern. Workplace accidents involving falling from heights have been one of the top 3 contributors for workplace fatalities and major injuries since 2011. 
  6. The situation has deteriorated further this year. To date, we have 16 fatalities and 87 major injuries due to falls from heights, compared to 10 fatalities and 88 major injuries for the whole of 2014. This is a worrying and unacceptable trend, especially since work activities involving work at height is very prevalent in the Construction sector. 
  7. To help the industry understand the fundamentals of working at heights, two clinics were held in July. About 120 companies participated in the sharing sessions with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to discuss work at height issues, made queries on the regulations and shared best practices.
  8. Other than education, MOM has also stepped up our enforcement operations. We will conduct 500 spot checks on companies in 2 months and stern actions will be taken against those in breach of workplace safety and health regulations. The eight-week Operation Cormorant was launched in mid-October 2015. More than 300 workplaces have been inspected so far. The Operation aims to uncover unsafe work practices at worksites and factories focusing on hotspot issues such as work at height, crane safety and traffic management. These enforcement operations help us address these issues with the companies and ensure that companies rectify them before accidents happen.

    Prevention of Slips, Trips and Falls
  9. Besides falling from heights, slips, trips and falls (STF) are also prevalent across other sectors such the Metalworking, Wholesale Trade, and Logistics and Transport sectors. It was the top contributor for both major and minor injuries, and even resulted in four fatalities in 2014. In the first half of this year, STF continued to be the leading contributor of workplace injuries with 67 major injuries and 1,350 minor injuries.
  10. We need to do more to raise awareness on STF, and assist companies to manage these risks. It is with this in mind that we have rolled out the Slips and Trips Evaluation Programme. Targeting the SMEs in particular, we want to build capability amongst these enterprises in identifying and mitigating the risks of STF. 200 employers have participated in the pilot programme since it was launched in June. Site visits were conducted by external WSH professionals, who helped to identify all possible STF hazards at the workplaces, conduct risk assessment and even assisted in the implementation of some control measures immediately where needed.
  11. We received good feedback from the pilot programme. Employers found the programme beneficial as they are now able to identify STF hazards such as uneven flooring, wet floor and poor housekeeping, and take necessary measures to eliminate the risks. 

    Increase awareness of Falls
  12. Today’s programme will include three breakout sessions on falls prevention to cater to the needs of various sectors. Each track will focus on falls prevention measures that are relevant to the nature of the work. Through live demonstrations, interaction with subject matter experts and the various collaterals in your welcome bags, I hope you will all find it easy to implement measures to prevent falls in your workplaces. 
  13. We will spread this message on falls prevention further through various media platforms including newspapers, television, digital and outdoor media spaces at selected MRT stations and on buses over the next three months. Keep a lookout for our campaign materials and do your part to encourage everyone to do the right thing.

  14. Workplace safety and health is a journey without an end. We must stay vigilant at all times to ensure each and every one of us goes home safely to our loved ones at the end of each day. We shall not assume that small things don’t matter as they can lead to bigger problems. Together, we can help to prevent another accident from happening, starting from our own workplaces. We must remember that when a workplace fatality happens, someone will never go home alive and the family members will never see him or her again, forever. 
  15. With that, I wish the organisers a successful campaign and a pleasant day ahead for all. Thank you.