Workplace Safety: The Next Frontier

The year 2004 was a pivotal one for workers' safety in Singapore. That was the year the Nicoll Highway collapsed on April 20, killing four workers and injuring three others.

Just nine days later, the collapse of a steel structure at the Fusionopolis worksite on April 29 killed two workers and injured 29 others. A month later, a fire on board the ship Almudaina on May 29 at the Keppel Shipyard killed seven workers and injured three.

These three accidents triggered a round of soul-searching

The year 2004 was a pivotal one for workers' safety in Singapore. That was the year the Nicoll Highway collapsed on April 20, killing four workers and injuring three others.

Just nine days later, the collapse of a steel structure at the Fusionopolis worksite on April 29 killed two workers and injured 29 others. A month later, a fire on board the ship Almudaina on May 29 at the Keppel Shipyard killed seven workers and injured three.

These three accidents triggered a round of soul-searching

 

Workplace safety numbers improved dramatically after that, from 2004 to 2014. But they started dipping in 2015 and last year, although the first six months of this year have seen lower rates of accidents and deaths than last year.

One recent accident has put the spotlight on worker safety issues again, raising the question of whether it is time to push for even higher workplace safety standards.

 

On July 14, a section of a Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) viaduct under construction in Upper Changi Road East collapsed. One worker was killed and 10 others injured.

What more can be done to make workplaces safer in Singapore?

A GOOD DECADE

A look back to measures taken after the 2004 accidents is instructive.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reviewed the workplace safety framework. Its staff visited Britain, Germany, Sweden and France to study their laws and practices.

It announced a new occupational safety and health blueprint in Parliament on March 10, 2005, to cut workplace deaths by one-third in five years and by half in a decade, or 2015.

On Oct 17, 2005, the ministry proposed new legislation in Parliament - the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act - to replace the Factories Act to regulate occupational safety and health.

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/workplace-safety-the-next-frontier

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