SINGAPORE: Companies are urged to take ownership of workplace safety and health at their workplaces.
And all stakeholders, including employees, are urged to work towards a strong safety culture in Singapore.
Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin made the call on Wednesday as he commented on the recent spate of workplace accidents in his blog.
“2014 has started on a sombre note. To date, eight workers have lost their lives to workplace accidents. This is not tenable.
“It is an employer’s basic responsibility to ensure that every worker returns home safely at the end of a hard day’s work. Employers must do everything they can to fulfil this responsibility,” said Mr Tan.
He said that from his discussions with his ministry’s Occupational Safety and Health Division, he has found that the accident in each of the cases could have been avoided.
Mr Tan has asked the division to carry out thorough investigations to identify the circumstances that led to the accidents, and recommend ways to prevent their recurrence.
“We will not hesitate to take action against parties responsible for the lapses,” he added.
He also said that in addition to fines and Stop-Work Orders, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has in place programmes that help companies assess and improve their workplace safety and health systems.
The ministry also works with the industry to draw on their experiences and suggestions for better and safer ways to work.
Mr Tan said he understands that contractors are often under pressure to meet deadlines for their projects, and that might have led to unsafe work procedures while speeding things up.
He said: “I want to make it clear that, tight timelines or otherwise, there is no excuse for cutting corners or sacrificing workers’ safety or their lives.”
Noting that accidents can happen in different sectors, and that every workplace has its hazards, he urged all workers to stay vigilant.
Mr Tan referred to the message in the latest campaign of the Workplace Safety and Health Council: “Work safely. Your family awaits your return.”
He added: “It is a timely reminder of the importance of workplace safety and health, especially as we head into the Lunar New Year holidays.”