AFTER four workplace deaths in seven days, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is reminding companies to ensure workers' safety - or risk prosecution.
In a statement yesterday, MOM said it was concerned about the spate of accidents. It urged companies to "proactively carry out thorough risk assessments and enforce safety measures, to ensure the safety and health of their workers".
The four incidents took place between Dec19 and Dec25. On Dec 19, a stack of glass panels fell on two workers helping to move them, killing one and injuring another.
Two days later, a skip bin skidded, trapping a worker between it and the track of a boring rig. He died.
The next day, a truck driver died, apparently after falling while climbing into its cabin.
Then, on Christmas Day, a worker fell while plastering a wall on the roof of a building and died.
These were just the most recent of nine workplace accidents this month, which resulted in six deaths, mostly in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
All nine cases are being investigated by MOM's Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate.
Director Kevin Teoh said initial findings were that the accidents could have been prevented with proper risk assessment and good safety practices. By law, all stakeholders - occupiers, principals, contractors and workers - must take "reasonably practicable measures" to ensure health and safety. Those found guilty of failing to do so can be fined up to $200,000, jailed for up to two years, or both, for the first offence.
Companies can be fined up to $500,000, and workers who fail to comply with safety measures can be fined up to $1,000.
Two cases from 2010 resulted in prosecutions this month. One employer was fined $100,000, with two workers involved fined $800 each. In the other, the worksite occupier was fined $60,000.
The deaths close a year which saw fewer workplace deaths in the first six months, but also high- profile accidents, such as the Downtown Line scaffolding collapse which killed two workers.
MOM stepped up safety inspections in August.
Firms must never take a chance when it comes to safety, said labour MP Yeo Guat Kwang, a member of the Workplace Safety and Health Council, which yesterday e-mailed more than 26,000 industry players, highlighting the four accidents and urging companies to stay vigilant.
Mr Md Zin Abdol Azis, a storekeeper for an industrial gas manufacturer, oversees the handling of flammable cylinders.He said: "We tell new workers it is about making sure you can go home safely to your family at the end of the day."