About 140 contraventions posing fire and explosion risks were uncovered during a workplace safety and health (WSH) enforcement operation targeting waste recycling companies, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (13 November).
The MOM said in a Facebook post that such contraventions include poor handling of containers containing residual flammable or toxic gases and obstruction to fire safety measures.
“In addition, our inspectors also uncovered contraventions such as unsafe stacking, unsafe electrical wirings, poor forklift conditions, unsafe machine guarding and poor housekeeping,” it wrote on its post.
The poor housekeeping, the MOM said, for example obstructed walkways can cause tripping and fall hazards. “They also prevent workers from evacuating quickly and safely in the event of a fire,” the Ministry added.
Attaching several photos to demonstrate instances of mishandling flammable materials, the Ministry pointed out that the drilling of LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) cylinders to depressurise residual gas can cause sparks that can trigger fire or explosion, while unsafe wiring can also cause electrocution and trigger fire or explosion.
For the unsafe storage and stacking of objects, it poses the risk of collapse onto workers. Bald forklift tyres can cause forklift-related traffic accidents.
According to MOM, the enforcement operation ‘Ops Bowerbird’ — launched by the Ministry last month and supported by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) — had inspected more than 30 companies.
To this, it said that some companies were also found to have engaged in good practices such as rejecting flammable materials such as canister cans, LPG cylinders and compressors into yards if they lack the expertise to handle them safely.
In its post, MOM also reminded the employers to conduct risk assessments, identify the materials that the companies are equipped to handle, and observe the safe work procedures.
While companies may be ramping up their work activities to meet deadlines due to earlier work suspension with year-end festivities approaching, MOM cautioned that all companies should “maintain vigilance and ensure necessary safeguards are in place to protect workers”.
“Last year, in Nov and Dec alone, there was a spate of accidents that unfortunately resulted in the death of 11 workers,” said MOM.
“We will continue inspecting such workplaces to heighten focus on WSH, even amid COVID-19. MOM and WSH Council would also be working with the relevant industry leads to issue an advisory regarding safe recycling work next month,” it noted.