SINGAPORE – The number of cases of noise-induced deafness in the workplace fell sharply in the first half of this year, according to preliminary figures released on Monday (August 20) by the Ministry of Human Resources (MOM).
The statistics showed that the number of occupational diseases – a cause for concern last year – dropped to 294 in the first half of this year, from 471 in the first half of last year and 328 in the second half.
The three main types of diseases – musculoskeletal disorders, noise-induced deafness and skin diseases – all registered general declines.
Noise-induced deafness cases were from 196 in the first half of 2017 to 102 in that period this year. Skin disease cases decreased from 50 to 21.
Musculoskeletal disorders, which constituted the highest percentage of occupational diseases, fell from 182 in the first half of 2017 to 157 from January to June of this year.
The report on health and safety at work from Monday to June showed that there were 20 deaths at the workplace, a decrease compared to 23 in the second half of 2017, but more than in the first half of 2017 .
The annual fatal injury rate was 1.3 per 100,000 employees at the end of June, comparable to the figure for the same period last year.
In general, there were fewer injuries in the workplace and dangerous incidents also fell by more than half, from 20 cases in the first half of 2017 to nine cases in the first half of this year.
Although there were fewer fatal and serious injuries in the production, transport and storage sectors, construction increased from 53 in the first half of last year to 72 in that period this year.
Vehicle-related fatalities – the leading cause of fatalities in the workplace since 2013 – declined from seven in the first half of 2017 to four in the same period this year.
MOM, however, said that falling remains a concern, with seven fatalities in the first half of this year, of which more than half are under construction.
There were four autumn-related deaths in the first half of 2017 and eight in the second half.
Falls were also the main cause of serious injuries in the first half of this year, with 142 cases, an increase from 112 in the same period last year.
The MOM and Workplace Safety and Health Council strengthened enforcement and engagement efforts in the first half of 2018 to focus on priority areas such as fall prevention, vehicle and machine safety and the construction industry.
MOM Director of Policy, Information and Business Services, Mr. Christopher Koh, said: "There was some progress in workplace safety and health performance for the first half of this year, but we need to do even better, especially in the construction sector and the prevention of falls.
"I want to remind employers and employees that they are not complacent and that hasty work without the necessary attention to safety can damage employees and damage business results."
The ministry also said that it carried out 2,600 inspections at work between January and June this year to inform companies about workplace hazards.
Nearly 1,500 inspections were carried out in the construction sector, while the remainder focused on other sectors with a higher risk of injury, such as production and transport and storage.
It revealed 5,000 workplace and occupational health violations and 40 stop-work orders were issued, each for an average of four weeks. Fines worth $ 800,000 were imposed on 350 companies.
The biggest violations were situations that caused fall risks, such as not covering or guarding openings and open sides at height, and not providing a safe way to go in and out.