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Singapore’s three-week long Operation Sunbird revealed a range of risks being faced by workers at worksites, such as workers falling off buildings, being struck by falling tools and debris, and falling through scaffolding structures.
Of the 214 worksites inspected by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), almost 90% (191) were found to have poor Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) practices. These worksites received 272 Notices of Non-Compliance and 147 fines amounting to SG$156,000. Six of them were even issued Stop-Work Orders.
Previous investigations into fatal accidents during the lead up to the Chinese New Year in 2014 showed that while rushing to keep up with tight project deadlines, contractors tend to disregard key WSH practices.
“Our inspections found that the majority of worksites had WSH contraventions, the most common of which were open sides of buildings or work areas that were not barricaded, failure to install guard-rails and toe-boards and failure to provide safe access to scaffolding,” noted Chan Yew Kwong, director of MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate.
Added Minister for Manpower, Tan Chuan-Jin, “Such an attitude is irresponsible and unacceptable. Tight schedules should not be an excuse to put workers at risk. Deadlines must be met, but never at the expense of our workers’ lives and wellbeing.”
MOM is planning to continue with regular safety inspections on worksites and has urged “employers, contractors and occupiers to ensure the safety and health of their workers”.