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Three workplace fatalities in two days: Construction firms urged to review safety protocols

Safety time-out will help address any potential lapses, says WSH Council chairman John Ng

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Singapore – Three workplace fatalities in two days this week have led to construction firms being urged to review safety protocols by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL).

On Friday (Nov 27), both expressed “deep concern” over the incidents.

According to a bulletin on the WSH Council’s website, the first incident happened on Monday (Nov 23) when a worker raising the work platform of a boom lift got caught in between the guardrail of the machine and a roofing structural member. He was  pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The following day, a separate incident was recorded involving a worker checking formwork panels at a construction site. The worker lost his footing and fell 0.8m to the ground. He was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries on Wednesday.

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The third incident happened on the same day when a worker was tasked to carry out arc welding on a pipe. To facilitate welding work, an inert gas was first introduced into the pipe. The worker was subsequently found unconscious with his upper body inside the opening of an adjoining pipe. He was conveyed to hospital where he was pronounced dead, said the WSH alert.

The Ministry of Manpower is investigating the incidents.

In response to the incidents, the WSH Council and SCAL called for a Safety Time-Out to prevent workplace accidents and to remind all construction firms of the importance of maintaining workplace safety and health even as they implement safe management measures at worksites.

“Workplace fatalities can be prevented by conducting adequate risk assessments and establishing good communication with workers. Site personnel should also remain vigilant and maintain a high level of safety awareness at all times,” noted the advisory.

According to the Third Quarter National WSH Statistics report, there were six fatal injuries between July and September 2020, one fatality more than in 2Q 2020. Furthermore, major and minor injuries as well as occupational diseases were higher during 3Q 2020 compared to the previous period.

The WSH Council highlighted that “this was likely due to the resumption of business activities after the Circuit Breaker period”. It added that the indicators were still lower compared to 2019 numbers.

“The recent accidents are strong reminders for us not to overlook the importance of WSH practices at worksites,” said WSH Council chairman John Ng in a media release. “After a period of hiatus due to Covid-19, workers may have lowered their safety consciousness and become less mindful of safe operating procedures.”

The Safety Time-Out exercise is a review of construction activities and safety protocols. “Conducting a safety time-out exercise now will help industry stakeholders review all existing WSH provisions and address any potential lapses,” added Mr Ng. /TISG

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