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MOM increases safety checks ahead of Chinese New Year

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower has launched an enforcement operation to eradicate poor health and safety practices from local construction sites, following numerous tragic accidents and deaths in the last 12 months.

The ramped up safety enforcement - called operation SunBird - comes after eight workers lost their lives in total at worksites in January 2014. Investigations by MOM showed contractors were rushing construction work and disregarding key Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) procedures in order to meet deadlines before the Chinese New Year holidays.

This year, one worker has died in a construction-related accident after being crushed by a formwork structure which toppled over. The accident took place at Shimizu Corporation’s workplace along Alexandra Terrace, which has been engaged by Mapletree Business City, the developer. Investigations are ongoing.

ALSO READ: Construction sites are Singapore's deadliest workplaces

Minister for Manpower, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin said the accident is a grim reminder of the consequences of WSH lapses.

"MOM’s investigations into past accidents revealed that when some contractors were unable to keep up with project timelines, they ended up cutting corners in the area that matters the most – workplace safety and health. This is unacceptable," he said.

"Every worker is entitled to a safe workplace, and every employer and occupier is obliged to provide that. I call on all stakeholders to play their part to prevent accidents and ill health at work. Prevention is key, as no amount of investigations or penalties will bring a deceased worker back to life."

To ensure a focus on WSH ahead of the festive period, MOM has launched an enforcement operation to weed out poor practices at construction sites.

Operation SunBird will involve inspections at more than 200 worksites island-wide over a three-week period, ending in early February 2015. This is in addition to regular inspections MOM conducts throughout the year.

Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, companies that fail to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of their workers can be fined up to $500,000 for a first offence.

Image: Shutterstock

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