THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will launch a safety inspection blitz in the coming weeks - ramping up the number of surprise checks by about 50 per cent.

This move comes on the heels of a number of recent high-profile accidents such as the East Village fire, the Bugis Downtown Line construction site incident and, most recently, the collapse of a multi-storey carpark during demolition work.

The ministry's preliminary investigations revealed the lapses that led to these accidents could have been prevented with proper risk management.

"Based on our preliminary investigations, these recent workplace accidents could have been prevented if each stakeholder had put in greater effort to assess the risks as well as check and review procedures before carrying out work, particularly for the construction industry," said Kevin Teoh, MOM's director of the Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate (OSHI).

"What is more worrying is that these accidents over the past month were serious and the number of workers injured or even killed could have been higher. MOM is very concerned," he added.

In the first half of 2012, the construction sector saw nine workplace deaths. This was a rate of 2.2 deaths per 100,000 employed persons - compared to 12 fatalities in 2011, a rate of 3.2 deaths per 100,000 employed persons.

OSHI conducts spot checks at about 3,000 of the roughly 4,000 construction sites every year.

The coming inspections will focus on three main areas of concern on worksites - namely demolition, formwork, and working at heights.

Inspectors keep an eye out for safety lapses such as a lack of appropriate barriers or support structures, unstable scaffolding, poor lighting conditions, and exposed wires.

The Workplace Safety & Health (WSH) Council has further called on the industry to conduct management inspections and a Safety Time-out - the temporary suspension of all or part of a company's operations to address safety concerns - on their sites.

The Singapore Contractors Association Ltd and the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore have supported the move.