Singapore pledges to halve workplace deaths by 2028

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says Singaporean workplaces should be no more dangerous than those in other developed countries

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has set an ambitious new target for the country’s employers and workplace health and safety regulators. He wants to see the annual rate of workplace deaths fall below one per 100,000 workers.

Speaking to the opening of the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work on September 5, the Prime Minister noted that Singapore had already made significant cuts to the number of workplace accidents.

In 2004, Singapore saw five workplace deaths for every 100,000 workers, far higher than other developed nations at the time. It has since reduced that figure to 1.9 per 100,000 workers by the end of 2016, within close reach of the existing 2018 target of 1.8 per 100,000 workers.

“This is still not the best that can be achieved,” Lee said.

“OECD countries like the Netherlands, the UK, and Sweden all have workplace fatality rates of less than one per 100,000 employed persons, and there is no reason why Singapore cannot be as good as them.

“So we have decided to set a new target: to reduce Singapore’s rate to below one per 100,000 in 10 years’ time.”

Lee says Singapore’s tripartite partners – comprising government, unions, and employer groups – would work cooperatively to achieve the target, which is in the interests of all three groups.

“For employers, ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is sound business policy,” he said. “If you take good care of your employees, make sure that they are well rested, and train them well in safety procedures, they will be more productive.

“The trade union movement will continue to engage workers and companies, (and) encourage them to adopt better monitoring and reporting practices, including reporting near miss accidents or incidents.

“For its part, the Government will take the lead, and institute rules and incentives for companies to emphasise workplace safety and health.”

Lee noted that the government plans to work closely with high-risk industries in particular. Those with higher accident rates include the marine, construction, and logistics sectors.

“Human capital is Singapore’s only resource. Every life counts, every worker matters, and when an accident occurs, we investigate it thoroughly, identify the underlying causes, learn from our mistakes, and do our best to avoid doing it again.”

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