Speaking at SCAL Construction Safety, Health and Security Seminar, Sam Tan, Singapore's Minister of State for Manpower, Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) highlighted three areas of urgent attention in terms of workplace safety and health (WSH) in the construction sector.

Firstly, citing the 153 major injuries in 2016 and 22 in the first quarter of 2017, the Minister promised to double efforts to address falls hazards associated with common work activities in the construction sector, such as working from ladders and on structures.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is expected to triple the Mobile Work at Heights programme from 80 visits in 2016 to 300 in 2017. Under this programme, WSH professionals will visit construction worksites to provide onsite practical assistance and guidance on tackling work at heights hazards.

The second area of concern, he highlighted, is onsite vehicular safety, given in 2016 alone, 12 workers were hit and killed by moving vehicles within workplaces – of which six were from the construction sector. To minimise these occurrences, MOM will launch an onsite compliance assistance programme called “Managing Onsite Vehicular Safety” or “MOVeS” in short in August.

Under the programme, WSH consultants will visit and assess the work premises to raise awareness and guide employers on traffic safety management within their workplaces.

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The third area he pointed to was safe lifting operations, noting that in the first five months of 2017, Singapore saw seven dangerous occurrences involving the use of cranes. Half of these cases occurred in the construction sector.

To raise awareness of hazards in lifting operations and guide industry on good practices, the National Crane Safety Taskforce under the WSH Council will be producing a video on the preventive steps to take during lifting operations, as informed by Minister Tan.

In addition, he pointed to the role of other parties in maintaining WSH. "These initiatives that I have shared will be in vain without ownership at the industry and ground level. Hence, I am glad that SCAL is taking the lead in spearheading safety and health efforts in the construction sector,"  he said.

In addition to organising a series of safety awareness activities such as safety talks and in-house campaigns, involving top management, at its worksites, SCAL has produced its own mobile application for site supervisors to learn more about safe practices at worksites.

Going forward, the Minister reaffirmed the construction sector’s fatality rate target of less than 1.8 per 100,000 workers by next year, in line with this year’s national WSH campaign message, “Prevent all injuries. Go home safe and healthy.”