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March 26, 2008

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Singapore statistics reveal safety gaps

The latest workplace health and safety statistics in Singapore have shown a decrease in fatalities and injuries, but health and safety practitioners have warned that deliberate under-reporting of incidents by workers, and an increase in falls from height, are still causes for concern.

Figures released by the Workplace Safety and Health Council show that the fatality rate last year dipped to 2.9 deaths per 100,000 workers, from 3.1 in 2006. The number of injuries also declined. Cases resulting in permanent disability totalled 7.5 per 100,000 workers, down from 8.5 in 2006, and there were 450 cases of temporary disability per 100,000 – a dip from 458 previously.

Deliberate under-reporting is still a problem, however, as companies and workers fear fines or the sack, often through ignorance of the law, say Singaporean practitioners.

Despite a government campaign (Programme-Based Engagement – ProBE) last year, falls from height remain the top workplace killer. In contrast, the number of deaths by forklifts fell nearly 90 per cent, after related programmes were run under ProBE.

Statistics also show that while the fatality rate has been falling since 2004, this decline has slowed in the past two years.

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