MOM concerned with “deteriorating” workplace safety situation: Lim Swee Say

July 12, 201610:19 am1691 views
MOM concerned with “deteriorating” workplace safety situation: Lim Swee Say
A construction site along Geylang Road without proper scaffolding and safety barricades in place. The construction company was issued a Stop-Work Order (SWO) of three weeks under new conditions imposed on May 12, 2016. (Photo: Loh Chuan Junn)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is concerned with the deteriorating Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) situation, said Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, noting that in the first half of 2016, there have already been 42 fatalities – 12 more compared to the same period last year.

Mr Lim added that the construction sector remains the top contributor with 18 fatalities – an 80 per cent increase from last year, which saw 10 fatalities in the sector.

The Manpower Minister made his comments on Monday (Jul 11) in a written reply to a question by Assoc Prof Fatimah Lateef in Parliament. She asked what the root causes of the recent cases of workplace injuries and death were, and whether there were strategic and targeted interventions planned.

Mr Lim said that findings from preliminary investigations indicate that the fatalities had multiple factors as root causes. He said that many cases were due to inadequate risk assessments carried out by the companies, lack of planning and coordination, and insufficient safety awareness among the workers. “On the whole, it points to an absence of a robust WSH management system in the companies involved,” he said.

The Manpower Minister added that MOM earlier outlined a four-pronged strategy to take targeted interventions to improve WSH: Raising awareness, building WSH capability, strengthening enforcement and imposing harsher penalties.


MOM’s strategy was first announced in Parliament in April, and led to stiffer penalties being imposed on employers for workplace safety breaches as well as increased support for employers to improve workplace safety.

Mr Lim noted that since these penalties were introduced in May, 252 extended stop-work orders have been issued against worksites with rampant unsafe conditions. “We have also stepped up our enforcement presence, targeting high-risk sectors undertaking activities with high incidences of work injuries such as work at height, crane operations and formwork structures.”

The Manpower Minister said that MOM’s “heightened regulatory stance” is complemented by stepped-up assistance provided by the WSH Council. This includes programmes to help companies identify WSH lapses and improve risk assessment capabilities.

Mr Lim added he was “heartened” that the industry has also stepped up efforts to increase WSH awareness. He noted that in April, more than 100 project sites in the construction and marine sectors took part in an exercise to review the safety procedures for their work activities.

Mr Lim also noted that at a structural level, the Design for Safety (DfS) regulations will come into effect on Aug 1. The regulations will lay out the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in a construction project – mandatory for projects valued at S$10 million and above.

Mr Lim wrote: “It is important to reiterate that WSH is ultimately everyone’s responsibility. All stakeholders – employers, supervisors and workers – must take proactive ownership in WSH in order to improve our situation. MOM will continue to work closely with the WSH Council and industry partners to raise WSH standards and foster safe work habits.”

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