Singapore sees rise in workplace fatalities and occupational diseases in 2022

Singapore sees rise in workplace fatalities and occupational diseases in 2022

The number of workplace-related deaths, dangerous occurrences, and cases of occupational disease in Singapore increased in 2022, according to the annual Workplace Safety and Health Report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Tuesday (4 Apr).

The report showed that there were 46 workplace-related deaths in 2022, up from 37 in 2021, making it the highest number of fatalities since 2015 and 2016 when there were 66 each year. The rate of workplace-related deaths in 2022 was 1.3 per 100,000 workers.

Vehicular incidents and falls from a height were the top two causes of workplace fatalities, accounting for half of all workplace fatalities in 2022. The construction sector had the most number of fatalities with 14 cases reported.

MOM attributed the rise in workplace fatalities to basic safety lapses such as inadequate safety planning and control measures, as well as non-compliance with safety measures. The number of dangerous occurrences, incidents with a high potential for multiple fatalities but where no one was injured, also more than doubled from 13 in 2021 to 27 in 2022, with 56% of all incidents in the construction sector.

MOM stated that the spike in dangerous occurrences was due to a rise in crane-related incidents in the construction sector. To address the issue, the ministry announced a S$4 million grant in January to co-fund the installation of stability control systems on lorry cranes.

Additionally, MOM is reviewing additional measures to enhance crane operators’ competency and increase the deterrence of unsafe crane-related operations.

To improve workplace safety, a Heightened Safety Period (HSP) was implemented in September 2022. The HSP brought the monthly average of fatalities down from 4.5 to 2.5.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad acknowledged that while the construction sector has “seen improvements in reducing workplace accidents,” the incidence of major injuries did not improve in some sectors such as manufacturing.

In response to the spate of workplace fatalities last year, the HSP was extended until May 31, 2023, and a Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce convened to come up with strategies to strengthen workplace safety.

Apart from fatalities, reported cases of occupational diseases in Singapore rose from 659 in 2021 to 1,052 in 2022.

This increase was mainly due to ongoing efforts in MOM’s Enhanced Workplace Health Surveillance (WHS+) program and increased awareness in reporting among doctors and employers.

Noise-induced deafness and musculoskeletal disorders like back injuries were the top two types of occupational diseases, accounting for 92% of all cases.

The manufacturing sector had the most number of cases of occupational diseases, with 506 cases reported. For noise-induced deafness alone, there was a significant increase in cases from 168 in 2021 to 624 in 2022.

MOM said it would continue to increase the number of workplaces under WHS+ and work with the Workplace Safety and Health Council to increase awareness and implementation of workplace health programs.

Despite the improvements in the workplace safety landscape with the introduction of the HSP, continued vigilance is needed, MOM added.

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