When HR is a matter of life and death

by Ben Abbott30 Nov 2015
The MOM has called on HR professionals to join the workplace health and safety ‘journey without end’ or risk adding to a rising tally of workplace fatalities.

Prime Minister’s Office and MOM Minister of State, Sam Tan, has said in a speech HR has a responsibility to help prevent workplace deaths in Singapore.

“My message is a simple but serious one: everyone has the responsibility to make the workplace safe, and everyone can do something to make it safe.”

Spearheading the launch of a Falls Prevention Campaign, Tan said HR can help prevent more accidents from happening, starting in their own workplaces.

“We must remember when a workplace fatality happens, someone will never go home alive and the family members will never see him or her again, forever.”

Tan said businesses in 2015 were not being vigilant enough in preventing dangerous workplace incidents, with numbers topping those seen in 2014.

“In April, the Workplace Safety and Health Council launched its annual National WSH Campaign titled ‘I can prevent all injuries and be healthy at work’. Some companies do not seem to have taken this campaign seriously and the number of work-related fatalities and injuries in 2015 is higher than last year.”

Tan said it was ‘urgent’ that businesses take its message seriously, especially ahead of the holiday season when businesses “tend to let our guard down”.

Tan said businesses should stop overlooking small things– like not putting things back in their proper place - that can lead to problems, including death.

Tan said that falls remained a major workplace issue in certain industries, with 16 fatalities and 87 major injuries caused by falls from heights in 2015.

“This is a worrying and unacceptable trend, especially since work activities involving work at height is very prevalent in the construction sector.”

Tan singled out logistics, transport, wholesale trade and metalworking industries for having the biggest problems with slips, trips and falls, which had mounted to a total of 67 major injuries and 1350 minor injuries in the first half of 2015.

“We must stay vigilant at all times to ensure each and every one of us goes home safely to our loved ones at the end of each day,” Tan said. “We shall not assume small things don’t matter as they can lead to bigger problems.”

The MOM is conducting a series of spot checks and workplace health and safety capability-building initiatives, though it is primarily targeting SMEs.

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