First Half 2019: Fewer Workplace Fatalities; More Major and Minor Injuries

The number of workplace fatalities in the first half of 2019 was lower than the numbers in the first and second half of 2018.

The first six months of this year saw 17 workplace fatalities. This was the lowest absolute number of deaths at the workplace since 2012.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released the figure in its National Workplace Safety and Health statistics for the first half of the year on 20 September 2019.

Meanwhile, there were 18 and 23 deaths in the first and second half of last year respectively.

Fatalities at Work

The leading causes of deaths at work are falls from height. According to MOM, this remained a key concern with four deaths from January to June 2019.

Two of the cases occurred in the construction industry. Deaths due to the failure of structure or equipment increased from one case in the first half of 2018 to three cases in the first half of 2019.

Vehicular deaths remained the same for the first half of 2018 and 2019, with four cases.

Number of Non-Fatal Injuries

Despite the decrease in the number of deaths at work, the number of non-fatal workplace injuries had increased by 8 per cent. There were 6,561 cases in the first half of 2019, compared to 6,073 cases in the first six months of 2018.

The report also indicated that slips, trips and falls and machinery-related incidents remained the leading causes of both major and minor accidents.

Of the 6,561 cases of major and minor injuries in the first six months, 1,844 were slips, trips and falls, while 1,066 cases of major and minor injuries were machinery related.

“Although slips, trips and falls can happen anywhere, simple control measures such as proper housekeeping can help prevent them,” said MOM.

It added that closer attention should be paid to reducing machinery-related incidents.

Efforts and Enforcements

Construction and manufacturing were the two top contributing industries for fatal and major injuries.

MOM said that it will sustain its inspections targeting workplaces more prone to fatal and major injuries.

MOM conducted about 2,500 inspections in the first half of 2019 and uncovered more than 4,300 workplace safety and health lapses. It plans to do another 2,500 checks in the second half of this year, targeting the construction, manufacturing, and transportation and storage industries.

To address the rising number of non-fatal injuries, MOM said that it will implement the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) 2028 Tripartite Strategies Committee recommendations.

“It is encouraging that the first half of 2019 recorded the lowest half-yearly number of fatalities. However, we cannot be complacent as non-fatal injuries continue to rise, including in industries that were previously less accident-prone.

“To achieve pervasive WSH awareness across more industries, we have recently amended the Work Injury Compensation Act to share claims data with all insurers. This will help safer companies benefit from lower premiums. We will also publish injury statistics of companies, starting with the construction industry in 2020, so that safer companies will stand a better chance at securing business,” said MOM Information and Corporate Services Department Director Christopher Koh.

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