Workplace safety has not improved over the years – What is the government doing?
Posted by temasektimes on July 21, 2012
Workplace accidents like these are very common in the construction industry – we read about it in the news all the time. Mostly they involve foreign workers, but occasionally they involve Singaporeans too, most notably the infamous Nicoll Highway incident. The question is: What are the authorities doing about it?
Yes, it was an accident, but why couldn’t it have been prevented? Why did safety inspectors not foresee this danger? Why were the ‘safety precautions’ the workers must have been part of not protect them from these accidents?
Precious taxpayers’ money is going to governing bodies such as the Ministry of Manpower and Land Transport Authority.
These authorities are constantly gaining awards which pride their effectiveness and efficiency. Yet, are they really? We would expect these authorities to do their job or else they would just be receiving taxpayers’ money for absolutely, nothing. And we expect them to do their job ALL the time, not just being complacent and doing only something when really MAJOR accidents happen (which seems to be the trend recently as we all know).
How many more major accidents, how many more wake-up calls do the government need before it wakes up from the fact that it has so much more to do? Yes, these workers may only be foreigners which have no stake in our country. However, when accidents happen, the cost incurred in terms of finances, manpower and precious time is hefty, to say the least, given how millions of dollars are injected into construction projects.
Resources are being wasted – resources that could have gone to benefit us. Also, sloppy workplace safety also may point to other areas of sloppiness in the construction process. Is this why there were all those engineering problems in the MRT system of late? Is this really the efficiency we know?
Granted, freak accidents do happen which nobody could have forseen. However, a simple analysis of the statistics of reported workplace fatalities from MOM’s websites shows that from 2006 to 2011, the number of workplace fatalities has remained roughly constant at 60 instead of decreasing! What has MOM been doing to decrease this number? Or have they grown used to this fact and not care that they are partly responsible for their inaction in stopping these deaths? Construction sites have big placards boasting of the number of hours their worksites have gone through without any worker injury. Yet, such things still happen. Why?
MOM controls the number of foreign workers that can enter Singapore each year. The question is, did MOM bring them in just to face a gruesome fate?
I love new buildings and convenient new train lines. But thinking of them being built as a result of blood and lives being sacrificed just makes me feel real queasy. These foreign workers live in filthy cramped conditions, are given low pay, and there are many cases of these workers even being cheated of their pay – yet in exchange of all these, their lives are traded.
Perhaps to many their lives are worthless. Yet they are still human like all of us and their right to live is as equal as any other human. For their precious lives to be sacrificed year after year and the authorities just letting it happen…It just does not seem right.