Concerned about a recent spike in workplace fatalities and injuries, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower has called for a nationwide 'safety time-out' starting 9 May and expected to last two weeks. During this period, companies, especially in certain industries that have seen more fatalities than usual, are expected to pause work in order to review their workplace health and safety management systems, including reinforcing existing safety measures and training workers in health and safety procedures.
The industries expected to participate in the 'safety time-out' include manufacturing, maritime, construction, logistics, facility management, and the process industry. The industry associations representing each of these sectors are working with the ministry, the Workplace Safety and Health Council, and the National Trades Union Congress to raise awareness of health and safety procedures.
The call for a time-out follows an unusual number of workplace fatalities since the start of 2022. There have already been 20 deaths this year, more than half the number of fatalities for the whole of 2021. 10 of these happened in April alone. According to the ministry, investigations show that at least seven of the deaths may have been caused by not following the most basic safety measures such as wearing seat belts or fall protection gear.
Workplace Safety and Health Council Chairman John Ng said it is alarming that some of the recent accidents are similar to fatalities in 2021, right down to involving basic safety lapses. "I strongly urge all companies to answer this STO 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,” he said.
The last such safety time-out was called in June 2021, also following a spate of workplace deaths - nine in a single month - which were caused by basic safety lapses.