30 Workplace Fatalities So Far This Year Matches 2020 Total: Melvin Yong
The issue of workplace safety has come into stark focus this year after 2 high-profile industrial fires in Tuas.
Unfortunately, before the dust has settled on these cases, a Singaporean worker was recently killed by a container at a worksite in Pioneer.
This brings the number of workplace fatalities this year to 30.
Photo for illustration purposes only
NTUC assistant secretary-general Melvin Yong has called it a “grim milestone”, and called for companies to take real action.
49-year-old meets tragic end at worksite
The latest tragic incident involved a 49-year-old Singaporean man, reported The Straits Times (ST).
It occurred on Friday (1 Oct) morning at a worksite with the address 15 Pioneer Crescent, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) told the paper.
According to MOM, the worksite is occupied by a container depot operated by Allied Container (Engineers and Manufacturers).
Deceased was crushed by container
That morning, the container was in the process of being unloaded by a side loader.
That’s a vehicle that can hoist and transport shipping containers.
However, the deceased was crushed by a 20-foot container.
A 42-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing death by a rash act.
Melvin Yong deeply saddened
Saying that we shouldn’t think of workplace deaths as just statistics, the Radin Mas MP portrayed each of them as a human life, adding,
The workers leave behind loved ones, mouths to feed, and questions to be answered.
30 workplace fatalities in 2021
To drive home his point, Mr Yong – who’s also a council member of the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council – revealed a shocking figure.
The Pioneer death is Singapore’s 30th workplace fatality so far in 2021 – a grim milestone, he said.
Putting this in perspective, he added that it’s the same number as the total workplace fatalities in the whole of 2020.
Photo for illustration purposes only
That means with 3 more months of 2021 to go, we’ll exceed last year’s figure if we’re not careful.
Construction, logistics & transport sectors account for over half
Among this year’s fatalities, 9 are from the construction industry and 8 are from the logistics & transportation sector.
At 17, that’s more than half of this year’s total so far, Mr Yong pointed out.
He thus urged companies in these 2 sectors to:
- learn from the recent accidents
- stop and reassess their risk assessment
- put in place on-site measures to plug safety gaps
Tuas explosion raises worrying practices
Mr Yong also noted that an inquiry is still ongoing over the explosion at Stars Engrg in Tuas, which claimed the lives of 3 workers on 24 Feb.
Through the probe, alleged “worrying practices” have been uncovered, he said, such as:
- ignoring red flags
- improper use of machinery
He hopes companies can learn from the inquiry findings to take red flags more seriously and take “real actions” in response.
By doing so, they can avoid serious injuries and loss of workers’ lives.
NTUC will work with unions to remind and advise workers to be more alert at work and look out for one another’s safety.
2nd Tuas fatal incident just 7 months later
More alarmingly still, just 7 months after the 1st Tuas explosion, a similar incident took place at Tuas Incineration Plant on 23 Sep.
1 person was killed in that incident, while another 2 were taken to hospital for burn injuries.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Safety’s of the utmost importance
For high-risk industries like construction, safety is of the utmost importance.
Any fatality arising at the workplace is 1 too many, as these workers usually leave behind loved ones.
30 deaths this year means 30 families without a breadwinner.
Let’s hope companies and all stakeholders will take heed before more tragedies take place.
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Featured image adapted from OSG Containers @ Unsplash. Photo for illustration purposes only.
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