No stranger to workplace accidents . . .
A 32-year-old Indian migrant worker in Singapore died Wednesday after being crushed by a moving crane on a construction site on Mandai Quarry Road. Singapore’s police force is the site’s developer, and the tenant is the world's largest engineering and construction company – China State Construction Engineering Cooperation (CCDC). This is the second death at a CCDC site and the 27th workplace death in Singapore this year. Investigations have been launched, and all work has been paused at the Mandai Quarry Road site. Singapore is no stranger to workplace accidents. Last week, a Bangladeshi construction worker was killed after a wall collapsed on him at a job site in a private home.
Government responds . . .
Authorities in Singapore have blamed the series of fatal accidents on inadequate oversight, a lack of safety awareness by workers, and a lack of compliance with safety protocols, including around seat belts and safety harnesses. Although workplace fatalities dropped from 39 in 2020 to 37 in 2021, around 1.1 for every 100,000 workers, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the recent chain of fatalities is “not acceptable.” In response, the city-state is toughening up its penalties. A construction site supervisor was recently sentenced to 11 months in jail for ignoring demolition safety protocols that led to one death. In June, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower increased the penalties for companies failing to comply with workplace health and safety protocols and has doubled the fine for offences.
Workplace safety in the Asia Pacific . . .
Workplace safety and accidental deaths are not only an issue for Singapore. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 1.1 million people in the Asia Pacific region die every year due to occupational accidents. In fact, the annual death toll in Singapore is low compared to South Korea, where more than 2,000 workers died in 2020. Posco, a South Korean steelmaking company, experienced 18 fatalities in a three-year period alone. These grim statistics suggest that in pursuit of rapid economic development, some of the region’s lawmakers and investors may be maximizing output at the expense of worker safety.