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Singapore to increase maximum fines for workplace safety and health breaches to $50,000 from 1 June 2024

Singapore to increase maximum fines for workplace safety and health breaches to $50,000 from 1 June 2024

Similarly, it will be mandatory to install a video surveillance system at construction sites with a contract sum of S$5mn and above.

Singapore is increasing the maximum fines for safety breaches under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act’s Subsidiary Legislation, from S$20,000 to S$50,000. 

Effective 1 June 2024, this measure aims to act as a stronger deterrence against breaches of the WSH Act Subsidiary Legislation that could result in death, serious bodily injury or dangerous occurrence (i.e. serious harm). Per the Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) press release on Monday (27 May 2024), the maximum fines are reviewed based on principles such as severity of the offence, that is whether it was a major cause or contributing factor of serious harm.

"The increase in maximum fines is a proactive step towards strengthening ownership and accountability of WSH, particularly among senior company leadership who are responsible for shaping the safety culture at the workplace." Further details on the increase in maximum fines can be found below.

The increase in fines is also one of the two significant measures to Singapore maintain record lows for workplace fatal and major injury rates in 2023 and entrench a culture of WSH excellence. In line with the above, it will be mandatory to install a video surveillance system (VSS) at construction sites with a contract sum of S$5mn and above, starting 1 June 2024.

As shared by MOM, the construction sector remained a top contributor of fatal and major injuries across sectors in 2023, although there were improvements over the previous year. In an effort to push for further improvements in the sector, MOM is implementing the mandatory VSS installation at worksite locations where high-risk work activities are conducted.

"By enabling remote monitoring and video capture, the VSS acts as a deterrent for unsafe workplace behaviours, provides valuable training resources for companies, and offers insights for investigations of safety incidents and near-misses."

This will, in turn, foster a proactive approach to WSH management, and promote a culture of incident prevention in workplaces, the ministry added.

"WSH is a collective responsibility, and all stakeholders must continue playing an active role in building a culture of WSH excellence in Singapore for workers and workplaces to thrive."

Maximum fine for first conviction: S$50,000

Offences which are a major cause of serious harm, i.e. death, serious bodily injury, or dangerous occurrence (DO). These include failure to:

  • ensure primary and direct measures, systems and plans to ensure workers’ safety and health are in place (e.g. protective structures to prevent falls, Safety and Health Management System (SHMS));
  • conduct a risk assessment (RA);
  • appoint competent personnel to perform critical duties and for these personnel to perform their duties (e.g. professional engineer, scaffold supervisor, crane operator);
  • ensure employees are adequately trained (e.g. any person carrying out manual work in the worksite);
  • provide suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) (e.g. safety harness) or facilities or personnel to ensure safety and prevent an incident from escalating and resulting in serious harm (e.g. fire-fighting facilities);
  • inspect, maintain or repair equipment (e.g. crane, scaffold), where such inspections or maintenance are critical to detect or prevent failures or defects that can cause serious harm, and
  • provide warning notice of hazards which has the potential to cause or result in serious harm (e.g. warning notices on unsafe scaffolds, labels on electrical power circuit).

Maximum fine for first conviction: S$20,000

Offences which are not a major cause but contribute to serious harm. These include failure to:

  • ensure supporting measures are in place (e.g., review of a SHMS, RA or Safety Case; applying, retaining the permit-to-work records, making available documents such as SHMS that need to be referenced when performing work, ensuring workers are fit for employment, conducting noise monitoring, conducting asbestos-removal plan);
  • keep record of hazardous equipment, machinery or process (e.g. lifting gears, inspections of the formwork structure);
    appoint WSH personnel or WSH committee (e.g. WSH Officer, vessel safety coordination committee, site coordination meetings, design for safety, review meetings), and
  • provide emergency response (e.g., provision of first aiders and first aid boxes).

Maximum fine for first conviction: S$10,000 and below

Less serious offences that are procedural or administrative in nature. These include failure to:

  • ensure completion of training programme such as for the purpose of hearing tests,
  • notify authorities after an accident or DO;
  • fulfil duties for WSH personnel, WSH committee or person at work;
  • appointment of WSH committee secretary;
  • keep records of completed WSH tasks (e.g. RA) or surrender certificates when suspended/cancelled (e.g. a suspended or cancelled designated workplace doctor by the Commissioner);
  • report defects by persons at work, and obstruction of duties (e.g. not allowing designated workplace doctor or WSH auditor to inspect workplace);
  • failure to hold valid certificate for factory registration or update changes; or keep records which are not required to be referenced when performing work;
  • failure to make documents available during inspection;
  • failure to use, interfere or misuse PPE provided, and
  • failure to cooperate with employer or principal.

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