SINGAPORE — The mandatory safety time-out for high-risk industries has been extended to last a month throughout September, instead of a two-week period that would have ended last Thursday (15 September).
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a press statement on Wednesday that the extension is due to the industries requiring more time to comply with the time-out, and carry out a thorough review of their safety procedures.
From 1 October, MOM will conduct compliance checks, and take debarment actions against companies found to have not completed their time-out. Errant companies may face debarment from hiring new foreign employees for one month.
The time-out, which began on 1 September, was implemented in sectors including construction, manufacturing, marine, process, transportation and storage industries as well as others performing high-risk activities involving the use of heavy or industrial vehicles, as part of measures introduced under the Heightened Safety period.
The safety time-out means affected industries have to suspend operations temporarily to review safety procedures and complete activities based on a time-out checklist.
The activities include top management making workplace walkabouts to encourage workers to report safety risks and near misses to supervisors as well as sharing learning points from recent fatal accidents from the Workplace Safety and Health Council's alerts with their workers.
"Safety is our priority, and MOM will partner the industries to build safer workplaces. Those who need guidance can refer to the safety time-out checklist at go.gov.sg/stochecklist, and sign up for the StartSAFE programme for a consultant to conduct a risk assessment at the workplace," said MOM.
There have been 36 fatal workplace accidents so far this year, compared with 37 for the whole of 2021. Last week, MOM released a workplace safety and health report for the first half of the year, detailing the causes of fatalities and injuries involving workers.
"This is tragic and alarming. Almost all the fatal cases could have been prevented if workers were more aware of risky situations, and companies ensured that workers followed safe working procedures," said MOM in a circular on the safety time-out requirement dated 1 September.
Close to half of the fatal accidents in the past three months were vehicular-related, including victims who were in vehicles’ blind spots, crushed between the moving parts of vehicles, run over by vehicles whose handbrakes were not engaged, or whose engines were left running when there was no driver or operator.
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