Fewer injured at work, but more workplace deaths in 2015

SINGAPORE - A total of 66 workers died at their workplace last year, six more than the number that was recorded in 2014.

However, fewer workplace injuries and occupational diseases were recorded in 2015 compared to the year before, according to figures released by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Institute on Wednesday (Mar 10).

The majority of all workplace deaths last year occurred in the construction, marine and manufacturing sectors, which accounted for 37 fatalities. There were a further 15 deaths in the transportation and storage industry. The other deaths were recorded in areas such as telecommunications and food & beverage service activities.

Falls was the leading cause of death with a total of 23 fatalities. This was followed by the 10 deaths where employees were struck by moving objects and another 10 deaths caused by work-related traffic.

Other causes of death included those related to cranes, and cases from the marine, construction, manufacturing and logistics & transport sectors.

Despite the increase in fatalities, the number of non-fatal injuries at work declined from 13,535 in 2014 to 12,285 last year.

Occupational disease cases also fell to 932 cases in 2015, 60 fewer the year before.

Noise-induced deafness remained the most common type of occupational disease suffered by workers, while last year also saw a significant 65 per cent increase in occupational skin diseases due to an outbreak of skin rashes at a construction site.

Dr Gan Siok Lin, executive director of the WSH Institute, said: "We are particularly concerned about the increase in number of fatalities and dangerous occurences in 2015."

She added that this trend had continued into the new year, with nine workplace fatalities in January alone.

Dr Gan also urged companies to check their existing work practices regularly and systematically so that they would be able to recognise workplace safety and health risks at all levels.

seanyap@sph.com.sg