New workplace vehicle safety initiative starts

More than 300 enforcement actions – ranging from composition fines to legal prosecution – have been taken against errant employers for vehicular safety infringements since June, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan revealed yesterday.

The violations were related to a lack of proper traffic-planning practices, as well as poor vehicle maintenance and inadequate risk assessment.

This comes after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) announced in June that it would be stepping up enforcement measures to improve vehicular safety at workplaces.

In the first five months of this year, before the announcement, MOM took enforcement action more than 600 times for poor workplace traffic management practices.

Vehicular accidents have been the main cause of workplace fatalities for the past three years, with 22 workers hit and killed by moving vehicles last year.

“In the first half of this year, there were 379 injuries and seven fatalities caused by vehicle-related incidents,” said Mr Tan at the launch of the Drive Safe, Work Safe campaign on NatSteel’s premises in Jurong West.

An initiative of the Workplace Safety and Health Council, the campaign aims to highlight the importance of preventing such accidents. Companies will be encouraged to get their senior management to inspect worksites for potential vehicular hazards, as well as conduct briefings to highlight potential workplace traffic risks to workers.

MOM will also be introducing the Managing Onsite Vehicular Safety programme later this month, which will see consultants assessing worksites and helping firms develop and implement onsite traffic safety management plans for free.

Mr Tan said that technology can also be used to reduce human errors that lead to accidents.

For example, Bok Seng Logistics has introduced a system in its vehicles that triggers an alert and causes the seat to vibrate should the driver fall asleep. The firm’s group chief executive, Mr Dave Ng – who is also chairman of the Singapore Transport Association – said most firms in the logistics and transport industries here are “actively looking” into the use of technology to improve safety.

But Mr Ng added that other road users also need to be aware of the larger blind spots of heavy vehicles.

Singapore Logistics Association deputy honorary secretary Teo Woon Hun said firms need to be aware of the monetary impact of neglecting safety, such as higher insurance costs and penalties, should an accident occur. “If companies don’t take care of safety, it will come back to haunt them.”

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