Workplace fatalities increased slightly over the first half of the year as compared to the same period last year, according to the latest Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Report released by the WSH Council.
From 25 during the first half of 2010, 30 fatalities were recorded from January to June 2011. Fall from height remained the leading type of incident since 2006, which resulted in 13 fatalities, followed by being struck by moving objects, which killed five. Three fatalities were attributed to being struck by a falling object caused by a collapse or failure of structure and equipment.
Other causes of death are being caught in/between objects, fires and explosions, crane-related accidents, electrocution, and oxygen deficiency in a confined space.
77 per cent of fatalities came from the three traditional sectors – Marine, Construction and Manufacturing. These sectors also accounted for about 78 per cent of permanent disablements and occupational diseases. However, in terms of less serious injuries or temporary disablements (TD), they account for about 41 per cent of 4,697 cases.
Meanwhile, the overall number of workplace injuries fell by 8 per cent and permanent disablements fell by 37 per cent. Some 43 per cent of temporary disablements, which decreased slightly, include incidents like employees tripping in cluttered work areas and sustaining injuries or being struck by heavy objects while retrieving them from shelves.
Chairman of the WSH Council Lee Tzu Yang on the Report, “Although the number of workplace injuries has been declining by 5 per cent to 8 per cent over the last two years, we can see that we cannot afford to relax. … The Council is committed to getting everyone on board, and we can only succeed if employers want to ensure their employees’ safety and take concrete measures to improve.”
He added: “Employees in turn need to follow the safety rules, learn to be aware of risks and look out for each other. Everyone must put safety first, and I include offices, wholesale and retail companies, which form part of the new sectors that account for 40 per cent of workplace incidents.”
The number of occupational diseases went up from 124 in 2010 to 361 in 2011, primarily due to the increased reporting of Noise-Induced Deafness (NID) related cases. More NID cases were reported following an island-wide audit exercise by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Of the 315 NID cases reported, only one was in the advanced stage. The other 314 cases are in their early stages. Excluding NID cases, the number of occupational diseases in the first half of 2011 was 46 compared to 37 over the same period last year.
In response to this, the WSH Council has developed materials to assist employers of workers who may be exposed to noisy work environments.
Responding to the report, MOM WSH Commissioner, Mr Ho Siong Hin said, “MOM will be stepping up inspections in the key sectors over the next few months, and will not hesitate to impose stiff penalties, where necessary.”