How many deaths before we learn about workplace safety?

The question about how we view safety at work has never been more pertinent.

CNA.MandaiDepot

Just last week (3 Nov 2016) 2 more workplace deaths happened when two Bangladeshis were hit by a reversing lorry at the worksite of Mandai Depot, which is part of the Thomson-East Coast Line.

To date, MOM says there have been 61 worksite fatalities this year.

WSH Report 2016

According to the Workplace Safety and Health Report by the WSH Council, the number of workplace fatalities in the first half of this year increased by 40% compared to the same period last year.

Isn’t it alarming that we are seeing an increase of fatalities? And 40% is really quite worrying!

It is rather impossible to expect zero workplace fatalities. But for it to spike this year means something is seriously wrong.

I think Singaporeans do not take safety seriously enough. If you refer back to the Mandai Depot case, were there sufficient safety measures? Why were the two migrant workers lying there having a nap in the first place? Granted, workers can take cat naps during their breaks, but shouldn’t there have been areas designated for breaks? So many questions, but so little answers.

Safety shouldn’t be the responsibility of the safety officer, but everyone of all ranks and position.

Compare this to how the Singapore Armed Forces fares in terms of safety, and you see that we still have a long way to go.

SAF 5-tonner

Those of us who served National Service would know that in every vehicle, besides the driver, there is always a Vehicle Commander. The purpose of the Vehicle Commander is not just to direct the driver, but also to help keep a lookout for potential dangers ahead and to look out for blind-spots.

Servicemen undergoing military training also wear certain colour-coded wristbands to denote soldiers who may need more care and attention.

This was introduced in March 2010. Soldiers who suffered heat injuries in the past wear red wrist bands while asthmatic servicemen wear blue wrist bands.

Melvin Yong Rail Workers

 

Labour Member of Parliament Melvin Yong stressed the importance of workplace safety in a blogpost earlier this year.

“Every workplace fatality is one too many, and we must prevent such tragedy from happening again. We cannot take workplace safety for granted.”

While the context of the blogpost was about the rail transport system of Singapore, the issue of workplace safety is still the same for every industry and sector.

If we do not take workplace safety and health seriously, then it is only natural (and sad) that workplace fatalities will go up.

Think about it, what if the deceased was someone you knew, or is related to you?

Image Credits: ChannelNewsAsia, WSH Council, floraisabelle.com.

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Arthur Lee

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