SINGAPORE — During the September parliamentary session, Nee Soon Member of Parliament Louis Ng asked the Minister for Manpower how the ministry decided a worker doubling as a lorry driver transporting workers on the rear deck of the vehicle could work 12 hours a day.
Mr Ng also asked the Ministry of Home Affairs for data on the causes of traffic accidents involving lorries carrying workers on the rear deck in the last five years. This is not the first time that the Nee Soon MP has raised the issue. During the August parliamentary session, Mr Ng called for urgent action to prevent road accidents involving workers. He also asked the Government to consider forming a workgroup and discuss a timeline that could lead to an eventual ban on using lorries to transport workers on the rear deck.
MP Ng, who received a written reply from both the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the MHA, shared his sentiment on Facebook after the parliamentary session.
“Too tired to drive. I do think the limit of 12 hours of work a day for a worker who is a driver of lorries with workers in the rear deck is way too much.”
MOM explained that the dual role of drivers is covered under Part 4 of the Employment Act and it provides details such as the basic employment terms and standards on rest days, hours of work and other conditions of service for workmen.
“Dual-role drivers are therefore subjected to this limit on 12 hours of work hours each day, which includes their time spent driving for work, and are not required to work more than six continuous hours without a break,” said MOM in their reply to the Nee Soon member of Parliament.
MOM added that the Workplace Safety and Health Act also requires the employers of dual-role drivers to let them rest for at least 30 minutes before they drive lorries carrying workers on the rear deck.
“The WSH Council’s Guidelines on Fatigue Management and Guidelines on Traffic Safety also includes recommendations on how employers can prevent fatigue. For example, in addition to limiting shifts to no more than 12 hours including overtime, employers are advised to allow their drivers scheduled rest breaks of 15 minutes for every two hours of driving,” added MOM in their reply.
Mr K. Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, said in his written reply that the Traffic Police can only provide data on accidents involving lorries that were ferrying passengers, and which resulted in casualties or deaths.
“TP does not track the occupation of the passengers, if they are workers or otherwise, or if they were seated in the front or the rear of the lorry. TP also does not track whether the accident was attributed to fatigue,” said Mr Shanmugam.
“Over the past five years, for all accidents involving lorries with passengers which resulted in casualties or deaths, the fault in about 45% of the accidents lay with the lorry driver, while the fault in about 56% of the accidents lay with the driver of the other vehicle,” added the Minister for Home Affairs.
Mr Shanmugam explained that the figures do not add up to 100% because there are accidents where the fault is attributed to both the lorry driver and the driver of the other vehicle. There are also cases where the fault could not be attributed due to insufficient evidence.