Industrial Safety Singapore
It is highly important to maintain industrial safety in a workplace. Singapore adopted a new framework for workplace safety and health (WSH) to improve WSH standards and safety outcomes. The framework is based on three key principles:
- Reducing risks at source by requiring all stakeholders to eliminate or minimise the risks they create;
- Enhance more ownership of WSH outcomes; and
- Preventing accidents through higher penalties for poor safety management.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has worked with the WSH Council and other industry partners to improve industrial safety through a combination of capability building, an enhanced regulatory framework and greater industry engagement.
The impact of failures in industrial safety management lapses is more insidious but no less severe than that stemming from industrial safety lapses. Indeed, in developed economies, the cost of industrial safety problems often outstrips that of industrial issues. We, therefore, need a sensible approach to manage the risks from industrial hazards that balance employees’ safety and health with business needs.
Industrial Safety in Singapore
In 2008, there were 855 confirmed cases of Occupational diseases (ODs), of which 94.6% were cases of noise induced deafness (NID) and occupational skin diseases. This translates to an incidence rate of 36.2 per 100,000 employees. ODs are illnesses directly caused by physical, chemical or biological hazards in the workplace.
A fatal accident occurred recently at a construction worksite when a lift plunged 7 floors to the ground and the worker was dead. It was reviewed that the original motors, gearboxes and safety device had been replaced with a different brand of similar components. Approved Persons are reminded to exercise due diligence in their inspections of lifts and hoists and ensure that the statutory requirements stipulated under the Factories Act are complied with. Verification of the replacement of the motors, gearboxes, safety devices and other components of the lift/ hoist, it must be of the type approved by the manufacturer.
Before cleaning, repair or maintenance of any machine, you have to do lock-out procedures just in case the machine is inadvertently activated and cause injury. Every person carrying out any work shall be fully instructed on the lock-out procedures for that work before commencing.
Employees bear the sufferings as a result of the safety and health lapses occur in the workplace. While their employers play an important role in providing a safe and healthy work environment, employees must also take personal responsibility for their safety and be provided with adequate training to understand the importance of industrial safety and how to take precautions to protect themselves at the workplace.
One of the key challenges in identifying appropriate approaches to tackle industrial safety issues is the unique nature of industrial hazards and ODs. Whereas the consequences of failures in workplace safety are immediately obvious and manifest as injuries or fatalities, the consequences of failures in industrial hazard management may only become apparent many years later. Because many ODs have a long latency period, the onset of an OD may occur long after exposure to the WH hazard in question (such as a chemical agent) has ceased. Moreover, some ODs such as musculoskeletal disorders and chronic obstructive lung disease may be caused by both work and non-work factors. These make it difficult for employers to internalise the costs stemming from poor industrial management.
There are over 600 prescribed chemicals under the WSH (General Provisions) Regulations. If chemicals are not managed properly, they can cause many ODs such as skin diseases, poisoning and occupational lung diseases. An effective monitoring programme for workplaces using hazardous chemicals is necessary for early risk detection and intervention. By increasing the level of awareness of chemical hazards and proper chemical management monitoring and control are key activities of this programme. In this way, industrial safety is maintained as hazardous chemicals are regulated by different authorities in Singapore, a whole-of-government approach would be needed in terms of monitoring, intelligence gathering, and enforcement.
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Think First, Work Safely!