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11 workplace deaths so far this year, 6 of them at construction sites: Manpower Ministry

THERE have been 11 workplace fatalities so far this year, including six at construction sites, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Monday.

Three of the deaths were work-at-height fatalities - when a worker falls to his death due to lapses in safety procedures. This month has already seen two such deaths - a 44-year-old foreign worker from India died at a site in Gambas, in Woodlands, on May 1, while another worker from China, also 44, died at a site in Canberra Street on May 5.

This is a significant increase from the eight workplace deaths in the same period last year - Jan to May 13. Only one of these cases took place at a construction site. 

"Work-at-height is definitely the No. 1 cause of construction worksite deaths," said Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, during a surprise MOM construction site inspection on Monday.

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This inspection was conducted at a construction worksite in Dundee Road, as part of the MOM's workplace safety enforcement operations. The ministry carries out an average 16,000 worksite inspections yearly, of which about 3,000 are of construction sites.

The Dundee Road construction site was found to have several work-at-height issues, and MOM will be issuing the contractor, China Jingye Construction Engineering (Singapore), a stop-work order for all areas where safety lapses are found, said MOM.

To tackle rising construction worksite fatalities, MOM held an inspection operation covering 200 construction sites in April to early May this year. It will conduct another operation covering 500 construction sites over the next few weeks, said Mr Zaqy.

So far this year, two stop-work orders, 50 composite fines amounting to $63,000 and 300 notices of non-compliance have been issued to more than 100 companies, he  added.

The MOM and Workplace Safety and Health Council also urged all companies to stay alert, and ensure a safe and healthy workplace for workers. 

MOM’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate Sebastian Tan told reporters that work-at-height safety lapses are a pervasive problem at construction sites as some go for convenience at the cost of safety.

He said: "There has to be a mindset change for this to be resolved. It's not merely about enforcement of rules and regulations, but education of the parties involved as well."

 

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