SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be increasing inspection and audit activities by 50 per cent over the next two months, and companies with serious breaches will have their management system audited.
After a worksite inspection by the MOM’s occupational safety and health division on Monday (Aug 28), Mr Silas Sng, the divisional director, said such inspections are part of enhanced measures after the heightened safety period ended.
“We have been keeping up our enforcement efforts to maintain vigilance in higher-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing,” said Mr Sng, who is also the commissioner of workplace safety and health.
He said investigations into workplace incidents uncovered a “general lack of ownership and emphasis on workplace safety”.
“Basic control measures are not in place as we have witnessed at this worksite today," he said.
At the worksite for 35 Gilstead, a 70-unit condominium development near Newton MRT, MOM officers pointed out several lapses to reporters, including staircases with no hand railings and lift shafts that were not blocked off.
Barricades to prevent workers from falling off the building were also missing in some spots, and there were housekeeping breaches such as planks left on the ground or on scaffolding platforms that pose a slip, trip or fall risk to workers, MOM said.
Reporters also saw an unsecured ladder, nails protruding from work materials lying on the ground, as well as uncovered starter bars protruding from the floor, which can cause injury if workers fall into them.
The main contractor, Trinity Construction Development, was issued a stop-work order that came into effect immediately. When reporters were let into the site, most workers were gathered on the lowest floor.
MOM officers will inform the company what rectification measures need to be made on Monday or Tuesday, and work can only resume at the site after a follow-up inspection by the ministry.
Mr Sng called on both employers and employees to prioritise workplace safety, noting that MOM has found workers not following proper safety procedures. Inspections by the ministry and requests for external audits will be stepped up to sustain the gains made during the heightened safety period and those responsible for breaches will be penalised accordingly, he said.
“Beyond the usual enforcement actions such as fines and stop-work orders, companies with serious lapses will be required to conduct an audit of their management system,” said Mr Sng.
WORKPLACE SAFETY MEASURES The heightened safety period was implemented in September 2022 when workplace fatalities increased. It helped to bring Singapore’s fatality rate below 1 per 100,000 workers, though the major injuries rate worsened.
In May this year, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, said the heightened safety period was not a sustainable approach because it relied on tougher enforcement and penalties.
Instead, the ministry made tweaks such as expanding a demerit points system for workplace health and safety breaches to the manufacturing sector from Oct 1 this year. The system is already in place for the construction sector.
Construction sites where the project value is more than S$5 million (US$3.7 million) will also need to have a video surveillance system from June next year to identify risks, facilitate investigations and deter unsafe behaviour.
Mr Sng said workers and members of the public can report unsafe practices to MOM.
Ng, A. (2023b, August 28). MOM steps up inspections and audits of higher-risk worksites for two months. CNA. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/workplace-safety-mom-inspection-increase-audit-3729121