Source: Channel NewsAsia

A total of 500 workplaces across the island will be inspected over the next four weeks after nine workers died in accidents last month, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said.

In a press release on Thursday (Feb 4), the ministry said while investigations into the deaths are ongoing, preliminary findings indicate that ineffective implementation of risk assessments, absence of fall protection plans, or unsafe work procedures were contributing factors.

Enforcement efforts will be stepped up to ensure that safety and health standards are maintained, MOM said. "We will be stepping up our enforcement efforts on workplaces with a focus on supervisory practices, the quality of workers’ training and adequacy of risk management."

The latest step-up in enforcement follows an earlier operation, codenamed "Operation Cormorant", which was conducted over eight weeks from Oct 15 to Dec 15 last year. More than 1,150 workplaces were inspected, with a focus on work at heights, crane safety and traffic management, the ministry said. 

More than 1,900 workplace safety and health (WSH) contraventions were uncovered and close to S$450,000 in fines were issued, with fines ranging from S$1,000 to S$65,000 per inspection. Stop Work Orders were issued to 14 workplaces, MOM added. 

The top three offences uncovered include: 

  • failure to ensure that openings and open sides were properly barricaded or guarded;
  • failure to properly maintain lifting appliances or lifting machines
  • failure to establish and implement lifting plans prior to carrying out any lifting operation 

"Most of these accidents could have been prevented with proper risk assessment and effective implementation of preventive measures. Every worker is entitled to a safe workplace and employers have the responsibility to provide it. We will take errant contractors and employers that expose their workers to unnecessary risks to task," said Commissioner for WSH Ho Siong Chin in the press release.

Under the WSH Act, companies may be fined up to S$500,000 for the first offence for failing to ensure workplace safety and health, while individuals face a fine up to S$200,000, up to 24 months' jail, or both, the ministry said.