Death of man in Pioneer worksite brings 2021 workplace death tally to 30: Melvin Yong

SINGAPORE – The number of fatal incidents at workplaces this year stands at 30 after a Singaporean man was crushed to death by a container at a Pioneer worksite last Friday (Oct 1).

Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong, in a Facebook post on Sunday, said the tally is the same as the total number of workplace deaths reported for 2020.

Mr Yong, who is also National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general, said: “This is a grim milestone that none of us would wish to reach.”

He added that the nine deaths in the construction industry and the eight deaths in the logistics and transportation sector account for more than half of this year’s reported workplace fatalities.

And the lives lost to workplace accidents, he said, are not just a statistic.

“The workers leave behind loved ones, mouths to feed, and questions to be answered,” he added.

Mr Yong said the latest workplace fatality comes amid an ongoing inquiry into the explosion at Stars Engrg in Tuas on Feb 24, in which three people died and seven other workers were injured.

The Inquiry Committee, chaired by Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun, was appointed on March 2 to look into the causes of the fatal explosion and fire, which involved a mixer machine used by the fire protection company to create a clay-like substance for its products.

In the span of two weeks in September, a total of 15 people testified, including the seven workers who were injured but survived.

So far, questions in the inquiry have focused on a series of red flags beginning months before the explosion, which included smoke emissions, leaks and fires involving the mixer.

Mr Yong said: “The ongoing inquiry has raised worrying practices such as ignoring red flags and improper use of machinery.”

He said he hoped that through the findings of the inquiry committee into the explosion, companies can learn to take red flags more seriously.

He also hoped companies would take real actions to resolve them before these red flags result in accidents involving serious injuries or loss of lives.

Mr Yong urged firms in the construction industry, as well as those in the logistics and transportation sectors, to learn from recent accidents, stop and reassess their risk assessment, and quickly put in place measures on-site to plug any gaps in safety.

He said: “NTUC Singapore will be working with the relevant affiliated unions to push out more reminders and advisories to workers to increase their alertness at the worksite and to help look out for one another’s safety and well-being.

“We can, and must, do more to stop this alarming rise in workplace fatalities because every worker matters and every life matters.”

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