The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Sunday (19 Jan) that since the start of 2020, three people have died in workplace accidents. MOM has urged companies to step up safety in the working environment.
The Ministry noted, “This does not augur well for workplace safety and health…With the festive period approaching, some firms may ramp up work activities to meet deadlines. MOM reminds all companies of the need to review work practices and ensure that the necessary safeguards are in place. All workers deserve a safe working environment and to return home safe and healthy to their loved ones.”
DEATH BY GAS CYLINDERS
This year’s first accident on 8 January saw a worker getting crushed to death by a toppled pallet of gas cyclinders. The fatality occurred when a group of workers was installing piles using a crawler crane at a construction site, according to the report by Workplace Safety & Health Council (WSH Council). As the work was being carried out, the crane operator turned the crane, toppling off a pallet of gas cylinders onto a nearby worker. Paramedics pronounce the victim dead at the scene.
The second accident on 11 January saw a runner falling onto a worker from a formwork structure that was being shifted by four workers, according to the WSH Council. As the form structure was being moved, a runner fell from the top, striking one of the workers – who later died at the hospital from the injury.
The third accident saw a worker falling from a tugboat into the sea.
THE MANY FATAL WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS
In 10 years’ time, the government seeks to lower the figure down to 1.0 per 100,000 workers.
According to MOM data, in 2018, 41 people died after workplace fatalities, which was a record low. But, the latest bouts of workplace accidents are a cause of concern.
Although the 2019 workplace fatality statistics have not been released, 25 people died on the job between January and September, according to the records by MOM.
In November, nine workers died on the job, which galvanised MOM to bolster enforcement of workplaces, especially high-risk industries like manufacturing, construction and marine.
Within one-month of the two month enforcement period, 230 of the 400 inspections have been carried out by MOM, as reported by MOM yesterday.
During inspections, one of the top violations was regarding unsafe scaffolds that did not have guardrails and toe boards to safeguard workers from falling.
Some firms also failed to have effective barriers or guardrails affixed to openings to prevent workers from falling from such dangerous heights, MOM remarked.
There were also companies who failed to provide a means of access to their work area, which then forced these workers to find their own way in, MOM added.
Four workplaces were ordered to stop operating via stop-work orders for allowing such hazards at the workplace endangering their workers. This order lasting not less than three works, will only be lifted when the firms fix removes the hazards and improve the health and safety management systems at their workplace, MOM reported.
MOM further remarked, “We will sustain the momentum of our enforcement operation, taking a tough stance against those who put workers at risk.”