In the space of two weeks, late November to early December 2020, Singapore saw five workplace accidents resulting on fatality. However, a closer look at news bulletins from the Workplace Safety and Health Council reveals several more in the months preceding.
Relevant reports at Channel NewsAsia about the five most recent incidents are:
- 27 Nov 2020, Construction firms urged to review safety protocols after 3 workplace fatalities in 2 days
- 4 Dec 2020, 2 more workplace deaths this week; calls grow for companies to prioritise worker safety
The incidents were also reported in Today newspaper.
There is one interesting statement in the earlier of Today’s stories. It said “The authorities cannot disclose the nationalities of the workers.”
However, if an incident is reported to have occurred at a construction site or a marine shipyard, it is very likely to be a foreign worker involved since these worksites are staffed predominantly by them. Even manufacturing and warehouse locations now have plenty of migrant workers in them.
A glance at the Work Safety and Health Council’s website reveals many more fatalities since the middle of this year when the lockdown was lifted, and particularly since August 2020 when the construction industry began re-opening.
Note: the list from the WSH Council’s website does not (as at 6 December 2020) include the 2 December fatality in which two workers were repairing a machine when its platen suddenly descended on one of the men, killing him.
On 1 December 2020, two workers were packing goods in a warehouse when one worker heard a loud thud and found the other lying on the ground facing up. The injured worker was conveyed to the hospital where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries.
On 24 November 2020, a worker was tasked to carry out arc welding on a pipe. To facilitate welding works, an inert gas was earlier introduced into the pipe. The worker was subsequently found unconscious with his upper body inside the opening of an adjoining pipe. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
On 24 November 2020, a worker was checking formwork panels at a construction site when he lost his footing and fell about 0.8m to the ground. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the next day.
On 23 November 2020, a worker was raising the work platform of a boom lift when he was caught between the guardrail of the boom lift and a roofing structural member. The injured worker was subsequently extricated and pronounced dead at the scene by attending paramedics.
On 30 October 2020, a worker was at a private dwelling working under a roofing structure when he fell from an A-frame ladder. He was found lying on the floor in a semi-conscious state next to the ladder. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on 4 November 2020.
On 15 October 2020, a worker was dismantling an electrical distribution board within a vacated building when he was electrocuted. He was sent to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
On 11 October 2020, a worker was adjusting the lashings used to secure steel beams on the bed of a lorry loader when the lashings loosened and one of the beams fell onto him. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene by attending paramedics.
On 24 September 2020, an excavator operator was transferring scrap metal into a compactor when a fire broke out. Shortly after, a co-worker found the operator to be laying on the ground with burn injuries. The operator subsequently succumbed to his injuries at the hospital on 27 September.
On 17 September 2020, two workers were carrying out isolation work on a pipeline in a process plant when they were overcome by toxic gas. A third worker, who attempted rescue, was similarly overwhelmed. All three were conveyed to the hospital and one of them succumbed to his injuries on 22 September.
On 3 August 2020, a group of workers was carrying out Addition & Alteration (A&A) works at the second storey of a building. When two of the workers tried to remove wooden planks on the floor, one of them fell through a floor opening under the planks and landed on the first storey. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
On 2 June 2020, two workers were carrying out repair works on a sawdust extractor that was positioned next to a parapet wall. To reach the side of the extractor, one of the workers stood on the parapet wall, lost his footing and fell 12 metres to the ground. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
On 28 May 2020, a worker was within his forklift, attempting to open the door of a lorry that was beside his forklift, when the forklift suddenly reversed, trapping the worker between the door of the lorry and the chassis of the forklift. The injured worker was conveyed to the hospital where he eventually succumbed to his injuries.
In all cases, investigations are ongoing and details may ultimately turn out to be different.
Speculation may arise as to whether the recent spate of accidents in the construction industry is partly due to contractors rushing to complete work that has been delayed due to the lockdown, but it may not be possible to determine this with confidence.