Singapore reports lowest workplace fatality rate since 2004
The number of workers killed in Singapore in 2017 was the lowest since 2004 when national estimates began, according to the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, WSH Institute and Ministry of Manpower (MoM).
The WSH Institute and MoM reported 42 workplace fatalities in 2017, down from 66 in 2016, which is the equivalent of a fatal injury rate of 1.2 per 100,000 workers. The latest figure shows Singapore has met the WSH2018 target of a workplace fatality rate of less than 1.8 by 2018.
The government agencies said it was a “significant improvement after fatal injury rates stagnated at 1.9 per 100,000 employed persons in 2015 and 2016”.
Fatal injuries declined across multiple sectors in 2017, including construction, transport and storage, manufacturing and marine. Construction deaths halved from 24 in 2016 to 12 last year.
Vehicles remain the leading cause of fatal injuries (14), followed by falls from height (8), slips, trips and falls (4) and machinery-related incidents (3). The total number of cases, 29, is a significant reduction compared with 2016 when there were 45.
These causes were also key contributors to major injuries and the MoM has said that it will continue to focus on the reduction of vehicle accidents, falls and machinery incidents as priority areas this year.
However, although there were fewer workplace injuries and dangerous occurrences in 2017 compared with 2016, the latest figures show that the number of occupational diseases rose from 732 cases in 2016 to 799 in 2017.
The increase in occupational diseases reflects more cases of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), noise-induced deafness (NID) and occupational skin diseases.
The 2017 figures show that MSD and NID cases accounted for 83% of all occupational diseases. The number of occupational skin diseases rose by 66% to 78 cases from the 47 cases reported in 2016.
To reduce the occupational ill-health burden, the MoM said it will target excessive noise at source, improve ergonomics and strengthen the management of hazardous chemicals at workplaces.
WSH Institute executive director Dr Gan Siok Lin said: “There is a need to manage workplace health the same way we manage workplace safety. Health affects safety and vice versa, so companies should take an integrated approach to enhance both their safety and health management capabilities.”
The joint press release reveals the WSH Council had focused on sectors with more fatal injuries, including construction and transport and storage. The MoM’s WSH inspectors also concentrated enforcement operations in workplaces with higher probabilities of vehicle incidents, falls and machinery incidents.
Nick Warburton is deputy editor of IOSH Magazine