New disqualification criteria for workplace safety breaches

Rising number of worker deaths prompts government to name two firms sanctioned for unsafe practices

New disqualification criteria for workplace safety breaches

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) plans further Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) measures to address the spate of workplace accidents during 2022.

Among the measures already taken are empowering workers to raise WSH issues, an approved Code of Practice for chief executives’ and board of directors’ WSH duties, and stiffer penalties for WSH offences, which have been in play since June this year.

The move comes after the worker fatality rate rose from 0.4 per 100,000 workers in the second half of 2021 to 0.8 per 100,000 workers in the first half of 2022. This also prompted MOM to call for a six-month period of "Heightened Safety" from 1 September 2022 to 28 February 2023.

Read more: New legal code for CEOs amid ‘poor safety record’ in workplaces

There were 28 workplace fatalities in the first half of 2022 but 10 of them happened in the construction sector – the largest contributor to workplace fatalities with a fatality rate of 2.3, nearly three times the all-sector rate, prompting MOM to introduce a disqualification framework and revised demerit points system for the construction sector, which will be introduced from October 1, 2022.  

MOM has also named two construction companies issued with Stop-Work orders. MOM stopped a project of Wah Khiaw Developments Pte Ltd after inspectors found people working at height without barricades or fall arrest systems. They also found unsafe formworks and unsafe means of access. The company was fined for the breaches.

It also stopped work at a site of KG Plasterceil Pte Ltd for unsafe scaffolds and unsafe working at height. MOM said it was assessing further penalties.

Read more: Firm fined $400k over safety failures

Disqualification framework

MOM will introduce a new harmonised set of disqualification criteria across all public sector construction tenders. Contractors with poor WSH performance will be temporarily disqualified from participating in the tenders.

How it works

Main contractors and first-level subcontractors will be temporarily disqualified from public sector construction tenders for three months following:

  • Entry into MOM’s Business Under Surveillance programme (BUS), which occurs when systemic workplace breaches are uncovered.


  • Accumulation of 25 demerit points (DPs) or more under MOM’s DPS.

Demerit point system

An enhanced demerit point system will also be introduced, where the threshold for issuing demerit points will be lowered. This means that more demerit points will be issued for WSHA breaches and errant companies with consistently poor WSH performance will reach the penalty thresholds more quickly. After which, they will be debarred from hiring foreign employees for up to two years.

The number of dangerous occurrences also rose as did vehicular-related fatal accidents, but major and minor injuries in the workplace dropped. Slips, trips and falls were the leading cause of these.

In a press release MOM called on all stakeholders, from top management to supervisors, to workers and members of the public to do their utmost to prevent further deaths and injuries and build safer workplaces.

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