Singapore Task Force Unveils Fatal Falls Prevention Plan

All workplaces in Singapore would be required to implement Fall Protection Plans by 2015 under the plan published Dec. 2. While fatal falls have declined by 60 percent from a decade ago, the plan is meant to reduce them further.

A new, three-pronged plan to reduce fatal falls from heights at workplaces in Singapore has been released by the National Work at Height Safety Taskforce, which was created in August 2009 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Workplace Safety and Health Council. Chaired by Wong Weng Sun, president and CEO of Sembcorp Marine Ltd, the task force of government, industry, and supplier representatives issued its plan Dec. 2. MOM said fatal falls have decreased by 60 percent in the past decade, from 44 then to 19 in 2008, and the plan is intended to reduce them further.

Targets set in the plan are:

  • Halving current fall fatality and injury rates by 2013 and reducing them further by 2018
  • Implementing Fall Protection Plans at all construction work sites and shipyards by 2012 and at all workplaces by 2015

The task force worked with the two agencies to analyze the contributing factors in 126 fatal falls, including a lack of safe work procedures and inadequate fall prevention or protection systems. Recommendations by the task force are:

1) Build strong capabilities by having companies implement a Fall Protection Plan that ensures all reasonable fall protection measures and procedures are taken before work begins. The task force will be exploring new technologies or work methods that can eliminate the risks of work carried out at heights during projects' design and planning phase. A new Code of Practice for Working Safely at Height has bee introduced with a kit containing educational materials for supervisors and workers. National competency standards are under development, and stakeholders are being urged to seek training from outside sources or provide in-house training to their supervisors and workers.

2) Promote the benefits of safe work at heights by highlighting the consequences of failure. The task force will develop a new FALLPROTECT Certification/Recognition Scheme to certify or recognize companies for their Fall Protection Plans and their commitment to safety.

3) Maintain an effective regulatory framework for better work-at-height standards.

"In the last few months, the task force has been working hard with the WSH Council to develop quick wins, such as the Code of Practice on Working Safely at Height and the Work at Height kit," Sun said. "We urge industry stakeholders to tap on these materials to start developing and putting in place proper Fall Protection Plans. Beyond this, the task force will be working on longer-term solutions to provide a sustainable approach to work-at-height issues. This will include developing the national competency framework for work-at-height training."

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