Workplace safety laws to be reassessed

Singapore’s labour ministry seeks to tighten laws dictating workplace safety, with the aim of reducing fatalities.

Following the recent highway construction accident that left one worker dead and ten others injured, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has launched a review of laws on workplace safety.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan announced the review in Parliament last week, in response to questions from Members of Parliament.

The MOM aims to use the exercise to improve worksite safety, and to raise the penalties for lapses that result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Tan added that the MOM has also increased enforcement checks at construction sites. Additionally, companies that see worksite deaths will be monitored under a “Business Under Surveillance” programme.

At present, the MOM’s blacklist – of companies barred from hiring foreign contractors until they address safety lapses – is populated by 25 companies. These include Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors, the contractor behind the collapsed viaduct.

"MOM inspected all of OKP's worksites to check if the accident reflects a wider and systemic failure of the company's safety management. However, no evidence of systemic safety lapses were found from the inspections," said Tan.

The contractor had experienced another workplace fatality in September 2015, but this was prior to a tightening of blacklisting regulations by the MOM, which took place in May last year.

The MOM aims to complete the review of the Workplace Safety and Health Act by the end of the year.

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