One out of every three deaths in the workplace last year was caused by a vehicular incident.
Fourteen people lost their lives in such incidents last year, making it the No. 1 cause of workplace deaths, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said yesterday.
This proportion has been stable over the past few years, but Mr Zaqy noted signs of improvement, with just two such deaths recorded in the first five months of this year.
This is the first of three national workplace safety and health campaigns by the WSH Council this year. The other two will focus on preventing hand injuries and falls.
Mr Zaqy, who launched the campaign, said that half of the 14 vehicular-related work deaths last year occurred within work sites, and the rest on public roads.
“I hope that the number stops here, and I think it is possible as we have learnt that such incidents are indeed preventable,” said Mr Zaqy during a visit to private transport firm Woodlands Transport, in Tuas.
The campaign’s slogan is “Take time to take care”, and it seeks to educate workers about preventive measures, including reminding them to set aside time to adopt correct work practices, get adequate rest and keep hydrated.
Firms are encouraged to participate by organising in-house events like safety briefings and taking part in a “mannequin challenge”, which the council said underscored the message of stopping to look at the way workers do their work. The challenge involves taking a staged video of workers “frozen” in the midst of an activity – dovetailing neatly with the idea of “stopping and looking”.
In his speech, Mr Zaqy revealed the results of a WSH Technology Challenge launched last year. Funding was made available to firms that submitted winning proposals to tackle work-related vehicular incidents. More than 30 firms took part and judges from statutory boards chose five winning entries, which Mr Zaqy said provided “remarkable solutions for the industry”.
One selected company, Guardian SEA, was given a budget of $25,000 to develop sensor and image processing technology that vibrates the driver’s seat and sounds a buzzer if he shows signs of fatigue.
Mr Zaqy also gave an update on the Managing Onsite Vehicular Safety programme under which consultants assess work sites and help firms develop and implement onsite traffic safety management plans for free. The Manpower Ministry pays for the consultants.
It has helped about 80 firms since it was launched last year. Mr Zaqy said 120 firms will benefit this year.