The Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) new workplace safety and health data, 2017 saw 42 workplace fatalities, down from 66 in 2016, resulting in a fatal injury rate of 1.2 per 100,000 employed persons - the lowest fatal injury rate since 2004.
MOM noted that this was a significant improvement after fatal injury rates stagnated at 1.9 per 100,000 employed persons in 2015 and 2016. It has also met the target set in 2008 under the WSH2018 Plan, to have a workplace fatal injury rate of less than 1.8 per 100,000 employed persons by 2018.
Digging deeper, fatal injuries fell across multiple sectors in 2017 compared to 2016 - these include the construction, transportation and storage, manufacturing, marine, and cleaning and landscape maintenance sectors.
At the same time vehicular-related incidents, falls and machinery-related incidents reduced significantly - from 45 in 2016 to 29 in 2017. However, these incidents remained the top causes of fatal injuries in 2017.
The data also revealed that while there were fewer workplace injuries and dangerous occurrences in 2017, the number of occupational diseases (ODs) increased from 732 cases in 2016 to 799 in 2017.
MOM noted that the rise in ODs in 2017 was driven by the higher number of Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSD), Noise Induced Deafness (NID) and Occupational Skin Diseases incidences.
As the top two ODs in 2017, WRMSD and NID cases accounted for 83% of all Occupational Diseases. While the number of Occupational Skin Disease rose by 66% to 78 cases from the 47 cases in 2016.
Commenting on the higher number of ODs, executive director of the Workplace Safety & Health Institute, Dr Gan Siok Lin said: "There is a need to manage workplace health the same way we manage workplace safety. Health affects safety and vice versa, so companies should take an integrated approach to enhance both their safety and health management capabilities. We can address workplace injuries and occupational diseases more robustly when there is greater WSH ownership among all stakeholders - employers, employees and industry. A safe and healthy workplace is everyone’s responsibility."
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In 2017, about 16,000 inspections were conducted. At the same time, a total of 71 stop-work orders, more than 1,200 fines and over 9,000 notices of non-compliance were issued.
Throughout the year, the Workplace Safety and Health Council ramped up outreach and engagement efforts which was complemented by targeted enforcement operations by MOM's WSH inspectors, especially in sectors and workplaces with high probabilities of injuries and incidents.
Workplace Safety and Health Council’s general manager, Patrick Han, said: "While the outcome is encouraging, we must not be complacent. The WSH Council will continue stepping up its effort to promote the culture of care through Total WSH, instilling the mind-set of prevention through Vision Zero that all ill health and accidents are preventable and strengthening the trust between workers, employers and the Government through tripartism."
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