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  • Safety@Work

Safety Time Out Singapore May 2022

Here in Singapore on 9th May 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and industry partners have called on companies to conduct a safety time-out from 9th May 2022 Monday. This raising from a recent "worrying spate" of workplace fatalities across various industries.

So far from 1st Jan 2022 to 6 May 2022 there have already been 20 workplace fatalities. According to the press release by MOM and WSH Council, many of these fatalities could have been prevented with basic safety and health measures

There were 10 deaths in April 2022 alone.

"Preliminary investigations revealed that a common factor among these fatalities was that basic safety and health control measures – such as wearing of seat belts in forklifts, or fall protection gear while working at heights – were either inadequate or not in place at all," said MOM and WSH Council, adding that seven of the 20 deaths were similar in nature to cases that occurred last year.

"Lives would have been saved if these well-established control measures were taken."

Safety Time-out means taking a pause in work for senior management to engage workers and unions in reinforcing workplace safety and health processes, and to act on any issues raised. Senior Management should engage the staff and the workers. This drives home the message that safety is critical and important. They should also share the lessons learnt from the past incidents with the workforce.

The current Safety Time-out is expected to last for two weeks. During these 2 weeks the WSH Council, NTUC and industry associations will generate "mass awareness" on the need for companies to review their processes and learn from past accidents.

A quote from WSH Council chairman John Ng “It is alarming and unfortunate that a number of this year’s fatal cases involved basic safety lapses. I strongly urge all companies to answer this STO (safety time-out) call to review your processes, communicate with your workers, and implement necessary control measures to uphold good WSH standards, particularly in preventing falls from height, working around fragile surfaces, and the safe use of machinery such as forklifts,”.

This Safety Time-out will have two main focus areas: Working Safely at Heights and Safe Use of Equipment.

Work Safely at Heights includes activities such as working safely on fragile surfaces and safe use of ladders.

During the Safety Time Out companies should ensure they have effective workplace safety and health management systems, including reviewing their risk assessments, ensuring that all their workers implement risk control measures, and have safety training relevant to their roles.

Senior management should also to do a walk-about on site to ask workers about their concerns and encourage them to report safety risks and near misses to their supervisors.

The industry associations taking part in the May 9 safety time-out include: Association of Process Industry, Association of Property and Facility Managers, Association of Singapore Marine Industries, Singapore Contractors Association Limited, Singapore International Facility Management Association, Singapore Logistics Association and Singapore Manufacturing Federation.

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