Fewer work­place deaths last quar­ter

The New Paper - - NEWS - NG JUN SEN

But there were more in­juries: Man­power Min­istry

There were fewer work­place deaths from July to Septem­ber this year com­pared with the pre­vi­ous quar­ter, although more work­ers sus­tained in­juries.

A to­tal of 10 work­ers died in the last quar­ter, down from 14 from April to June this year. To date, 34 work­ers have died on the job this year.

There were also 3,122 cases of mi­nor in­juries last quar­ter – com­pared to 2,958 in the pre­vi­ous quar­ter.

Just as in pre­vi­ous quar­ters, falls re­main the top cause of in­juries and fa­tal­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Man­power Min­istry data re­leased yes­ter­day.

While there are fewer deaths last quar­ter, Min­is­ter of State for Man­power and Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Zaqy Mo­hamad warned against be­ing com­pla­cent. Five of the deaths this year in­volved con­struc­tion work­ers who had fallen from height, and many of the fa­tal in­ci­dents were pre­ventable, he said.

To that end, the MOM will step up its en­force­ment ef­forts on work-at-height ac­tiv­i­ties, set­ting a tar­get of 400 in­spec­tions from now un­til the end of the year, said Mr Zaqy.

“We hope this will also drive the mes­sage to in­dus­tries to take safety a lot more se­ri­ously,” he told re­porters on the side­lines of a visit to Sim Lian Con­struc­tion’s work­site in Bukit Pan­jang, where he also wit­nessed a safety re­view of the site.

CLINIC

The visit was part of MOM’s mo­bile clinic ini­tia­tive, in which com­pa­nies vol­un­tar­ily bring in third-party con­sul­tants to share the best prac­tices of the in­dus­try and im­prove their own safety pro­cesses.

The clinic ser­vice, started in 2016, is pro­vided free-ofcharge. MOM does not pun­ish firms for any short­com­ings de­tected dur­ing these con­sul­ta­tions and helps them im­prove.

At the clinic yes­ter­day, prin­ci­pal con­sul­tant Daryl Ong flagged sev­eral po­ten­tial risks at the site to the con­trac­tor.

Said Mr Zaqy: “It’s re­ally about build­ing up our ca­pa­bil­i­ties and com­pe­ten­cies, and for man­age­ment to take own­er­ship (of safety).

“I do not want a cul­ture where they only do it be­cause MOM wants to en­force.

“We want man­age­ment to say, ‘I care for my work­ers and that is why I do it.’”

Last week, the High Court set out a harsher sen­tenc­ing guide­line for work­place safety and health vi­o­la­tions due to neg­li­gence.

Those found to be highly cul­pa­ble and with a high po­ten­tial of harm can ex­pect a min­i­mum pun­ish­ment of about 16 weeks’ jail.

In his judg­ment, Jus­tice Chan Seng Onn said past sen­tences for such cases did not suf­fi­ciently de­ter peo­ple from breach­ing work­place safety rules.

ngjun­sen@sph.com.sg

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