Workplace injuries increase, drop in fatalities

SINGAPORE - Despite a slight drop of 3 per cent in major injuries in the first half of this year, overall workplace injuries increased by 10.4 per cent, said the latest Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Report.

This was mainly due to an increase of 11.3 per cent in minor injuries, which formed the bulk of the reported cases. The decrease in the number of major injuries did however contribute to a 6 per cent reduction in man-days lost due to work incidents.

The first half of this year also saw 26 fatal workplace injuries, down from 31 in the same period last year.

The three traditional high-risk sectors - construction, marine and manufacturing - saw a reduction from 25 fatalities last year to 17 fatalities in the same period this year.

However, the three industries account for 56 per cent of major injuries which have the potential to escalate into more severe conditions like fatalities, the report noted.

As such, there is a need for companies in these sectors to review the adequacy of work risks management so as to minimise the likelihood of any work accident, the report concluded.

As for occupational diseases, the number rose to 603, an increase from 360 cases. This rise was primarily due to efforts to address under-reporting of workplace health concerns in Singapore, the report said.

Commenting on the report, the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM's) WSH Commissioner Mr Ho Siong Hin said, "While the first half of the year saw a fall in the number of fatalities and major injuries, there have been a number of serious accidents recently in July and August.

"We are gravely concerned as similar issues are surfacing and workers are hurt in these accidents despite there being many lessons in the past. If stakeholders had planned their work better and are more vigilant, we could have prevented these injuries," he said.

Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, Acting Chairman of the WSH Council, further highlighted that workers are commonly injured by falling from heights, slipping, tripping or being struck by moving objects. Therefore, workplaces need to review work areas that could result in such injuries, he said.

"It is imperative that we learn from past incidents and do our best to prevent accidents similar to what we have seen in the first half of the year and in the recent spate of construction accidents," he said.

However, for MOM to achieve workplace safety all times, checks alone are not enough and each individual needs to feel personally motivated to work safely, Mr Ho said.

MOM will hence work closely with the Council to help workers learn how to work safely and raise safety concerns proactively, he added.

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