Monday, May 31, 2004

Yet another fatal accident 

In less than two months, Singapore has seen 3 accidents resulting in a total of 13 deaths among workers.

Last month, we saw the collapse at the MRT construction site along Nicoll Highway — which saw four deaths — and at the Fusionpolis construction site along Ayer Rajah Avenue — which saw two deaths.

The latest tragedy occurred on Saturday at the Keppel Shipyard along Benoi Road. Seven foreign workers involved in welding work on an oil tanker were killed when a fire broke out. The workers were Indian and Malaysian nationals aged between 22 and 46.

Acting Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen, who was at the scene of the accident, said: “This is the third incident in a row where workers' lives have been lost and this is again a wake-up call.”

According to Ng, Keppel Shipyard has a good safety record. However, he added: “It shows that even if you have a good safety record, just a minor slip-up — whatever the reasons we don't know, we have to find out — and you can have fatalities!”

Keppel Shipyard will give each of the victims' families $30,000 in compensation.

Yesterday, speaking at the sidelines of a PAP Community Foundation event, Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said safety measures at industrial workplaces would have to be tightened. “These things happen ... We have to find out the reasons and tighten up. We have to set an objective to bring down the rate by a third.”

At another event in Sembawang yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said the Government was “concerned” about the spate of industrial accidents. “We cannot allow the spate of industrial accidents to continue,” he said. Regulations and requirements might be introduced, he added.

Statistics from the Ministry of Manpower show that the number of industrial accidents — including those from the shipbuilding and repair and construction industries — have been on a declining trend since the late 1990s.


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