TL;DR – Every death is a tragedy and every accident is preventable.
Amidst all the discussion about a three-day work-week, and youths complaining about low wages, there is a more pressing worker issue that should have been receiving the same attention.
Did you know that there has been a total of 29 workplace fatalities in Singapore since the start of the year? This equates to at least four workers per month, dying from mishaps at their workplaces.
The latest accident involved a 35-year-old worker who died in a forklift accident at a HDB project.
According to reports, the Indian national was standing on the rear counterweight of a forklift while tying an electrical cable when the forklift moved backwards suddenly.
To improve the situation, he has called for employers to consider refresher training for employees, to incorporate site supervision using technology and even to appoint a dedicated person on-site to implement policies for workers to raise unsafe work practices.
Notably, Manpower Minister Dr Tan See Leng has also previously highlighted the construction sector as being “of great concern”, citing the number of workplace deaths in the sector.
What could be the reason?
Well, Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU) General Secretary Noor Irdawaty Jammarudin shared that the industry faces a manpower crunch, which may lead to each worker taking on a heavier load – a catalyst for workplace incidents.
Industry players also pointed out that it is common for firms to try and outbid each other by submitting low tenders for projects to be competitive. Hence, some companies may cut out supervisory staff which lead to increased lapses in safety standards by workers.
Perhaps the next time we complain about delayed BTOs or renovation, let’s also have some empathy for the workers who are working double time to make up for the lost time during COVID. Or the reduced manpower due because we were unwilling to pay more for the services.