Fewer injuries but more deaths in construction sector

Construction workplace injuries have reduced to 1,648 for the first 11 months of 2018, compared to 1,751 in the previous corresponding period.

However, the number of fatalities increased from 10 to 13 in the same 11-month period, a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesman told The Straits Times.

The number of deaths in the construction sector had reduced from 24 in 2016 to 12 in 2017.

“We are disappointed at the increase (in fatalities this year), having done well to halve the number of fatalities from 2016 to 2017,” said Singapore Contractors Association (Scal) president Kenneth Loo.

The association, he adds, will continue to work with firms, stakeholders and the government to improve the safety record next year. “There will be no let-up in our efforts to raise awareness, promote and educate the industry through programmes and activities.”

Scal had urged construction firms to take special precautions during the year-end period and are encouraging companies to conduct a safety timeout in the new year to remind workers of continuing workplace safety procedures.

“Key personnel and supervisors could be taking long leave, so there is a need to ensure that proper supervision is maintained,” said Loo. “Workers could be distracted by the festivities and lose focus and take safety procedures for granted.”

Industry players said the lower number of injuries could be due to greater awareness on the part of companies about the importance of safety, as well as slower demand for building construction this year.

Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (Siso) executive committee member Mohd Ridzwan Mohammad said that safety initiatives and efforts by companies have led to a decrease in minor injuries. “But the rise in fatalities could mean some people are still taking short cuts in time or cost.”

Read the latest Construction+ Malaysia & Singapore magazine, which highlights construction health and safety on our free Construction Plus app. — Construction+ Online

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