11 Jul 2006

Deaths at Singapore worksites up this year

Bangkok Post

Singapore (dpa) - Deaths at Singapore worksites have soared this year, with the worst accident rates in the construction, ship building and manufacturing sectors, figures from the Ministry of Manpower showed Tuesday.

Twenty-six workers died on the job in the first six months of the year, compared with 47 in the whole of 2005 despite a nationwide focus on workplace safety in the last two years.

The construction industry is a particularly large employer of foreign workers from Thailand and other nearby countries, while efforts are preceding to woo cadets to the maritime sector from as far as China.

Singapore's death rate in the workplace stands at 4.9 per 100,000 workers per year, nearly double the 2.5 average among 15 European Union countries.

The ministry is aiming to halve Singapore's fatality rate by 2015.

Proposed steps compiled by experts who advise the government on safety issues include constant review of laws to keep up with industry changes, a new way of grading internal safety systems and encouraging developers to consider construction firms with good safety records when awarding contracts.

Most major private developers make it a point to hire only safe contractors, but "many others in the industry still do not have this practise," The Straits Times quoted committee member Eugene Yong as saying.

The committee plans to visit next month in the Australian state of Victoria, where the construction industry went a full year without a single worker dying on a jobsite.

"We want to ask them some specific questions and hopefully gain some insights as to how they achieved this zero fatality rate," Yong said.

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