Companies taking innovative steps to raise workplace safety

Work platform manufacturer Haulotte has been operating in Singapore for 14 years and is proud of its record of zero workplace casualties.

With workplace safety a constant concern in industries such as construction, the company is determined to maintain this record.

At an open day at its Changi premises late last month, Haulotte showcased the world’s first fully electric man lift – a step up from traditional diesel-powered ones.

Mr Darren Phua, Haulotte’s general manager for South-east Asia, said the lift’s lower gas emissions prevent operators from inhaling toxins.

Operating trainer K. C. Low, 38, said: “If the machine isn’t using an engine, the vibration is less, it’s quieter. I feel more comfortable and can concentrate on my work more.”

Haulotte hopes its HA20 LE man lift, the first in its Pulseo range, will get companies to rethink their use of non-automated devices like gondolas and scaffolds for work at heights.

The machine is also silent, meaning that it can be used near schools and hospitals at all hours.

Haulotte is one of several companies that are innovating to raise workplace safety.

While the number of workplace deaths fell to a new low last year, the number of workplace injuries rose.

Falls from height accounted for the main cause of fatalities. Slips, trips and falls represented the leading cause of major injuries. The second and third causes of major injuries were machinery incidents and falls from height respectively.

The three causes collectively accounted for 349, or 59 per cent, of the 596 major injuries, defined as accidents that require amputation or lead to paralysis, crushing, fractures or dislocations, among others.

Last month, the Government accepted tripartite recommendations to improve workplace safety, and the Ministry of Manpower announced plans to publish the rates of workplace deaths and major injuries for every company online.

Clients like property developers, as well as workers, will be able to compare employers’ safety records on the portal, which is expected to be ready within the next two years.

Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APB) uses technology to train workers in a safer, controlled setting to achieve zero work-related fatalities.

Since January, it has been working with software developer EON Reality to adopt augmented reality and virtual reality technologies to simulate potential scenarios, such as firefighting, handling dangerous machines and working at heights.

Supply chain director Jerome Lamonin said it aims to “equip and prepare our employees to manage and mitigate risks”.

Said APB’s total productive management coordinator, Mr Luc Lucas: “My preparedness has been increased and I am now more confident in managing my projects that involve risk.”

While technology may save time, the cost may be higher.

But Haulotte’s Mr Phua said the cost is offset by safety features. He said that if the HA20 LE malfunctions, a screen is activated to troubleshoot and advise operators on how to return to safety.

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