Melvin Yong: Every death is a tragedy and every accident is preventable

By February 27, 2018Current

TL;DR – These alarming statistics will have you re-thinking workplace safety and health.

Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) is often over-looked amidst the hustle and bustle of work life in Singapore. Or many of us associate it with workplace injuries and industrial accidents that happen at places like construction sites.

However, the truth is Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) is more than just industrial accidents. It’s also about injuries in the offices, accidents during transportation and deliveries, and yes, it also includes physical and mental health.

We bet you don’t know that there are quite alarming statistics that are related to workplace accidents and injuries. We round up 4 statistics from the latest Workplace Safety and Health report that you should really be paying attention to.

1) Over 6,000 workplace injuries happened just within Jan 2017 to June 2017

In the year 2016, there were 13,014 workplace injuries that took place consisting fatal injuries, major injuries and minor injuries. While the numbers for July 2017 to December 2017 have not been tabulated, over 6,000 workplace injuries were sustained by workers within the first 6 months of 2017.

That’s a pretty scary number and we’re sure no one wants to be a statistic.

2) A total of 242,414 man-days were lost across 6 months

With Singapore competing on the global economic stage, can we really afford to lose an extrapolated number of over 480,000 man-days a year because of workplace accidents and injuries?

A study done by the Workplace Safety and Health Institute in 2011 estimated that the total cost of work-related injuries and ill health to workers, their employers and the community for Singapore was estimated to be SGD 10.45 billion, equivalent to 3.2% of the nation’s GDP for 2011.

It certainly puts things into perspective when you have a dollar value to it.

3) The incidence rate of occupational diseases is quite high

There were 467 cases of occupational diseases reported between Jan 2017 to June 2017. An occupational diseases is a chronic ailment that is contracted primarily from exposure to risk factors from work activity.

Noise-induced deafness and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were the top two work-related occupational diseases. MSDs are injuries or pain in the human musculoskeletal system, including the joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons, and structures that support limbs, neck and back.

4) Falling, slipping and tripping were top on the list of workplace injuries

Falling, slipping and tripping accounted for 27% of minor workplace injuries and 28% of major workplace injuries. If you think these are just related to industries such as construction or manufacturing, think again – these can easily happen if you are not careful in an office setting as well.

Labour MP Melvin Yong: “Value the life of every worker.”

Labour MP Melvin Yong has said in a recent blogpost that although Singapore has made good progress, every death is a tragedy and every accident is preventable.

In his budget debate speech today, he further advocated for more attention to be placed on workplace safety and health, and made the call for us to “value the life of every worker”.

“Earlier this month, the Ministry of Manpower reported that the number of workplace fatalities in 2017 had dropped to 42, the lowest figure in over a decade. This lowers our workplace fatality rate from 1.9 per 100,000 workers in 2014 to 1.2 in 2017.”

Mr Yong compared Singapore’s statistics to Finland’s workplace fatality rate of below 1.0 per 100,000 workers. So what is the Finnish secret?

They mandate that must be one elected Occupational Safety and Health representative in workplaces where there are at least 10 employees working regularly.

So then, should Singapore too have a mandatory WSH officer in every company?

Mr Yong thinks so, and he said in his budget speech,

“In particular, I’ve focused on the need to value the life of every worker and strengthen our workplace safety and health (WSH). There is a need for structured near-miss reporting regime and compulsory appointment of WSH representative for bizSAFE Level 3 certification to raise WSH standards.

The labour MP believes that the bedrock of our industries are our workers, and that each and every workers is a precious resource and a valuable asset. We should, therefore do more to provide safer workplaces and keep our workers healthy.

(Featured image via)


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Jasmine C

Author Jasmine C

Pens random musings of life for anyone who would listen to an idealistic yet practical soul. xx

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