MOM to implement new video surveillance requirement and increase fines to curb construction site accidents

NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Melvin Yong welcomes the new measures to reduce accidents.

By Nicolette Yeo 27 May 2024
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While working on the upcoming Serangoon Polyclinic project site recently, construction worker Muthu Kannan adjusted the chin strap of his safety helmet away from his mouth to make it easier for him to have a drink.

 

Later in the day, his supervisor warned Muthu not to do it again as it breached safety guidelines.

 

Muthu’s actions were captured by a video surveillance system (VSS) installed by the project’s contractor, Zheng Keng Engineering and Construction Pte Ltd, at the worksite to monitor high-risk activities.

 

Muthu, a 28-year-old worker from India, said that this measure has made him and his colleagues more vigilant at work.

 

Zheng Keng Engineering and Construction added that safety breaches have reduced since the VSS was implemented in 2022.

 

“The number of hazards we observed used to be around nine or 10 per week. After the implementation, the number dropped to four or five because the workers are being monitored and watched by the CCTV,” said the company’s workplace safety and health officer, Guo Jin Shun.

 

The VSS is one of two measures the Multi-Agency Workplace Safety and Health Taskforce (MAST) is implementing to entrench a culture of workplace safety and health (WSH) excellence.

 

At a visit to the Serangoon Polyclinic construction site on 27 May 2024, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced that construction companies would be required to install a VSS at sites with a contract sum of $5 million and above in locations with high-risk work activities.

 

Mr Zaqy also announced that the Government will increase the maximum fines from $20,000 to $50,000 for safety breaches that could result in death, serious bodily injury, or dangerous occurrences.

 

The VSS and increased fines will be implemented from 1 June 2024.

 

NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Melvin Yong and other WSH industry stakeholders joined Mr Zaqy at the site visit.

 

Enhanced safety with VSS

 

Mr Yong welcomed the new measures, particularly the VSS, to prevent construction site accidents.

 

“Any act that causes safety to be at risk can be caught on video, and actions can be taken promptly to prevent an accident.

 

“For example, a worker can be counselled for not wearing his safety helmet, or a new preventive measure can be put in place promptly.

 

“In an unfortunate event that an accident happens, CCTV footage can provide useful evidence of what happened, and appropriate measures can then be put in place to address any [incidents],” he elaborated.

 

Mr Yong added that unions have regularly updated workers about new safety measures, including the VSS.

 

“The systems are put in place for their [the workers’] own sake. If they have not been putting in practice safety measures, the videos are there to remind them,” he said.

 

Ensuring WSH excellence

 

MOM’s annual workplace safety and health report, released on 27 March 2024, reported that for every 100,000 workers, some 16 had major injuries, and less than one died on the job in 2023.

 

This is Singapore’s lowest workplace fatality rate, and the lowest workplace major injury rate in the past 10 years, not including the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic year.

 

Despite the record low workplace fatality and injury rates, Mr Zaqy said it is important to keep the momentum going with a strategy of measures and enforcement.

 

“We wanted to ensure this is sustainable over time, not an exception … The key is to put such measures in place so that we build a culture.

 

“Some of these measures will help transform the way we work; help transform the way we think about safety. We hope this will encourage more employers and workers to review how we work today and how we can make ourselves more productive and efficient,” he explained.