To ensure employers take up greater ownership for Workplace Safety and Health (WSH), Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has introduced stiffer enforcement penalties, balanced with enhanced support programmes.

According to a press release, from January to April 2016, there have been 28 workplace fatalities, six more compared to the same period in 2015.

Concerned about this high number of workplace fatalities, MOM will put in place penalties such as tighter conditions to lift the Stop-Work Order, stronger Business Under Surveillance Programme, and a temporary suspension of access to foreign workers.

These penalties will be balanced by free support by the WSH Council to companies needing assistance in improving their WSH systems through the Safety Compliance Assistance Visits Plus programme.

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Tighter conditions to lift Stop-Work Order (SWO) The minimum SWO period will be increased from two to three weeks with immediate effect. Four new conditions will be imposed before a SWO is lifted: 1. Conducting refresher training on all areas of weaknesses 2. A re-audit of WSH Management System 3. Communication of findings and lessons learnt to all workers 4. Enhancement of “Site Coordination Meetings” to drive improvements to on-site coordination and supervision of work activities

Stronger Business Under Surveillance Programme (BUS) Companies issued with a SWO or have a workplace fatality will be immediately placed into the BUS programme and the exit criteria for BUS will be tightened to include two new conditions: 1. A requirement to inculcate the practice of “Last Minute Risk Assessment” (LMRA) among workers 2. A requirement to submit a Continual Improvement Plan which would be monitored post exit from BUS

Temporary suspension of access to foreign workers Companies that have had a workplace fatality or a SWO may have their work pass privileges for hiring new foreign workers temporarily suspended until improvements and rectifications on their systemic issues are addressed.

Support Programme Under the Safety Compliance Assistance Visits Plus (SCAV+) programme, certified WSH professionals will work with company management to identify WSH lapses and recommend appropriate control measures.

In addition, MOM will intensify outreach efforts to the workers by partnering the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (SISO) to promptly communicate learning points from fatal accidents to every worker through the network of WSH officers.

MOM urged employers, contractors and occupiers to take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of workers, including conducting proper risk assessments and WSH training, and ensuring that workers have sufficient rest periods. Under the WSH 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 the first offence.

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