SINGAPORE – Another four companies have been barred from hiring new foreign workers for a period of up to three months after serious safety lapses were found at their worksites.
This takes the total number of firms sanctioned under a six-month heightened safety period to 15. It was introduced in September 2022 to curb a spike in workplace deaths and injuries here.
Giving this update in a written parliamentary reply on Monday, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said the chief executives of these 15 companies have also had to personally account for the safety lapses and take responsibility for the necessary rectifications.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is working closely with these companies to ensure that the lapses are made right.
The heightened safety period, which MOM said has helped to improve workplace safety here, is set to end on Feb 28. No decision has been made on whether it will be extended.
“While we have seen some improvement, we need to remain alert and maintain our vigilance,” Dr Tan said.
“The ministry is reviewing the next steps when HSP (heightened safety period) ends in February. Extension of HSP is being considered, as well as further measures to strengthen and entrench WSH (workplace safety and health) incentives and culture,” he added.
Since September 2022, more than 760 fines and a total of 48 stop work orders have been issued to errant companies.
The construction sector was the top contributor of workplace deaths and major injuries in 2022, but Dr Tan said there has also been a 21 per cent “improvement” in enforcement actions taken by MOM for every inspection conducted in the sector.
This came after MOM in October 2022 introduced a standardised set of criteria to disqualify unsafe contractors from public construction tenders, and tightened the demerit points system for construction firms.
In response to questions from labour MP Melvin Yong (Radin Mas) and Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), Dr Tan said the main causes of the 46 workplace deaths in 2022 were inadequate control measures and safety procedures, poor implementation of control measures and unsafe behaviour by workers.
“These are preventable safety lapses and the ultimate root causes are that management accountability, incentives and training for WSH need strengthening,” he added.
About 80 per cent of all fatal and major workplace injuries in 2022 were from the traditionally higher-risk industries, including construction, manufacturing, transportation and storage, and some services industries.