66 workplace deaths last year

SINGAPORE – Technology can help companies address the “worrying” workplace safety and health situation, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said on Wednesday (Jan 18).

His remarks come as he announced that preliminary findings indicate that 66 workers had died in workplace accidents last year, similar to the year before.

It means the fatality rate has remained at 1.9 per 100,000 people employed, and is still above the national target Singapore is aiming for by next year – fewer than 1.8 deaths per 100,000 people employed.

“We owe it to our workers to keep them safe and healthy so that they go to work and return home safely to their families every single day,” said Mr Tan, speaking to over 400 people at the inaugural WSH Tech Symposium at the Singapore Expo Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“Let us embrace and harness technology to push new frontiers to bring about safer, healthier and productive workplaces for our workers, in a manpower-lean workforce.”

Mr Tan announced that the Manpower Ministry’s Snap@MOM mobile app, which people can use to report unsafe work practices, has been upgraded.

The new version, which will be released in the middle of this year, will allow companies to track and analyse their workplace safety and health statistics. The reports generated are meant for the companies to use in-house, and will not be sent to the ministry, unlike those from the original app, said Mr Tan.

He also gave examples of how technology, such as virtual reality, apps and robots, can help with safety training, monitoring workplace practices, and preventing accidents.

At the Building Leadership Simulation Centre in Melbourne, which he visited recently, supervisors and workers learn to deal with worksite challenges in a risk-free virtual reality simulation, for example.

Construction company Teambuild Engineering & Construction, meanwhile, developed an online portal to monitor the safety performance at its various worksites here.

In another example, JTC Corporation and Nanyang Technological University, together with local start-up Aitech Robotics and Automation, developed a robot that can paint the 10m-high ceilings of industrial buildings, removing the risk of workers falling from height. The job is typically done by two painters using a scissor lift.

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