Singapore joins OECD countries such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden in achieving fatalities below 1 for every 100,000 workers.
Singapore has reduced workplace fatalities to below 1 per 100,000 workers, well ahead of its 2028 target.
The target was set by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2017.
In 2023, workplace fatalities fell to 0.99 per 100,000 workers. This is the first time that the number of workplace fatalities has fallen below the 1 per 100,000 worker rate in Singapore, apart from 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted work.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced the figures on 31 January 2024 at the NTUC U Safe Forum and Awards held at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability.
Singapore joins OECD countries such as the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden in having fatalities below 1 for every 100,000 workers.
“But it is not ‘mission accomplished’ by any means … Whether we can maintain it, though, depends on all of us not letting up our recent efforts. This will require all of us to stay the course, remain laser-focused on our objective, and reinforce a strong and pervasive culture of workplace safety excellence,” said Mr Zaqy.
During the U Safe Forum and Awards, 21 unions and companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), received the NTUC U Safe Award.
The four unions awarded include the Building Construction And Timber Industries Employees’ Union (BATU), the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union, the National Transport Workers’ Union and the Public Utilities Board Employees’ Union.
Fourteen other companies from the private and public sectors were awarded. They include the Public Utilities Board, SBS Transit Rail, Changi General Hospital, Dyna Mac Engineering Services Fujitec Singapore Corporation, NTUC FairPrice Group and Singapore Post.
The three SMEs awarded include Caison Engineering, D-Team Engineering and Kindly Construction & Services.
The award recognises the unions’ and companies’ efforts in championing a safer workplace for workers.
For example, BATU has promoted the importance of workplace safety and health (WSH) by curating email circulars and sharing comprehensive WSH information kits with management partners.
BATU also established a dedicated union reporting channel to enhance WSH communication and reporting.
Another example is Singapore Post.
The company began utilising automated rider sensors to alert delivery personnel on motorcycles to hazards and trialled the use of inward-bound cameras and sensors to monitor drivers’ alertness.
NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Melvin Yong said that the awards are a testament to the collective efforts in prioritising the safety and well-being of workers.
He added: “I am encouraged by the success of concerted efforts among the tripartite partners to protect and safeguard our workers. Over the years, we have seen significant progress in our workplace safety and health outcomes.
“Together, we have raised penalties for WSH lapses and sent a strong collective message that every worker matters and every worker deserves a safe work environment.”
NTUC said companies that participated in its ‘Spot, Stop and Report’ campaign saw an increase in reports relating to WSH.
The campaign was launched in September 2023 to encourage workers to speak up and report safety hazards without fear of retaliation.
The recently concluded campaign received good responses from more than 10 companies.
For example, bus operator Tower Transit saw its feedback rate increase to an average of three to four per month, an increase from one feedback every quarter previously.
Property management firm Marina Properties also experienced an increase in its feedback rate to an average of 37 per month, up from 34.9 per month.
To date, NTUC has trained over 1,700 union leaders in WSH.
Mr Zaqy said unions play a critical role in ensuring the safety and health of workers by advocating for better working conditions, proper WSH protocols and access to necessary WSH training.
He added: “As ‘eyes on the ground’, they [union leaders and members] are in the best place to raise feedback on WSH to the management and to resolve them in a constructive manner. In this way, every worker can become a WSH advocate.”