Singapore calls for 'Safety Time-Out' amid increased workplace fatalities

Employers are urged to learn from previous workplace fatalities

Singapore calls for 'Safety Time-Out' amid increased workplace fatalities

Singapore has called on employers to implement a Safety Time-Out (STO) starting May 9 after it recorded a total of 20 workplace fatalities so far this year.

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), 10 from the 20 fatalities have been recorded in April, with the overall figures higher than the number of fatalities recorded in the same period since 2016.

MOM said that out of the 20 fatal incidents so far, seven of them were similar to those that took place in 2021, with three involving forklifts, two from falls from ladders, and while another two from falls through fragile surfaces.

"Preliminary investigations revealed that a common factor among these fatalities was that basic safety and health control measures – such as wearing of seat belts in forklifts or fall protection gear while working at heights – were either inadequate or not in place at all," said MOM. "Lives would have been saved if these well-established control measures were taken."

With the fatalities and situation considered, MOM has joined calls for employers to implement an STO that is expected to last for two weeks, where companies are required to take time off from their daily work routine to review of workplace safety and health systems.

It urged the following employers to take part in the STO starting Monday:

  1. Association of Process Industry
  2. Association of Property and Facility Managers
  3. Association of Singapore Marine Industries
  4. Singapore Contractors Association Limited
  5. Singapore International Facility Management Association
  6. Singapore Logistics Association
  7. Singapore Manufacturing Federation

Read more: WSH: New plan for workplace safety

"We need all employers and employees to take WSH seriously and personally, and to implement the WSH measures before an accident occurs in your workplace," said Silas Sng, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health and Divisional Director of MOM's Occupational Safety and Health Division, in a statement.

The said STO will have two focus areas, including Working Safely at Heights, such as working safely on fragile surfaces and safe use of ladders, as well as Safe Use of Equipment, such as forklifts.

"This STO also urges senior management to ensure that learning points from past accidents are shared with all workers. Doing so enables all parties to be aligned in their goals towards achieving better WSH practices," said MOM in its statement.

The ministry has partnered with the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and industry partners for the conduct of the STO.

As part of the joint efforts, WSH Council will be organising an online STO Forum that will be broadcast on its Facebook page by the end of the month. It will focus on topics such as safe use of forklifts, safe use of ladders, working around fragile surfaces, and safe boarding of vessels.

The last time the WSH Council called for a nationwide STO was back in June 2021, which also last for two weeks.

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