MOM raising safety officer requirements for worksites, reviewing penalty system: Tan See Leng

SINGAPORE – More workplace safety and health (WSH) personnel will be deployed to the ground, as Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng announced on Thursday (June 23) that his ministry is conducting a review of current WSH requirements following a recent spate of Workplace accidents and deaths.

At the same time, the government will look at ways to more strictly penalize contractors with poor work practices, and give those better safety records more business opportunities, he added.

Noting that the current WSH regulatory regime has been in place for more than a decade, Dr Tan said it is timely to review the requirements.

“Having more WSH personnel on the ground will help contractors better manage WSH on-site,” he said.

He noted that many firms already go beyond today’s legal requirements and have full teams of WSH personnel “because (they) believe that a safe and healthy workite is the right thing to do”.

“Through the review, we hope that more contractors will also benefit from the assistance of trained and competent WSH personnel,” he added.

The review comes as the 27th workplace fatality was reported this year on Wednesday, when a 32-year-old construction worker from India was crushed by a crane.

He was working at a site occupied by China Construction (South Pacific) Development Co, a firm already under close monitoring by MOM due to another workplace death in February.

In comparison, there were 30 workplace deaths for the entire of 2020.

The review will look at how many WSH auditors, officers and coordinators are needed to improve the level of WSH oversight on the ground, Dr Tan said of construction firms and safety personnel at an event at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability.

The event was the launch of the Singapore Contractors Association’s (Scal) annual safety and health campaign to engage its members on raising safety standards.

Dr Tan called on the industry to “do everything we can to prevent the loss of lives and make sure our workers return home safely to their loved ones”.

He noted that of the 27 workplace deaths this year, 10 were from the construction sector, which Dr Tan said was “of grave concern”.

Last week, MOM raised the penalties for companies with poor workplace safety and health performance, doubling the composition fines for offenses observed during safety inspections to a maximum of $ 5,000.

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