Screenshot of Lim Swee Say from Facebook video

Speaking at a conference yesterday (Aug 24), Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say charged that 9 in 10 workplace deaths in construction is the fault of the victim because of wrong or unsafe behaviour.

According to figures by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Institute, 7 in 10 fatalities were resulted from poor planning or poor execution of work. 87% of the companies involved with the fatalities failed to carry out risk assessment or place in risk control measures. There are currently 48 deaths as of 2016 and the fatality rate is likely to be higher at 2.2 per 100,000 this year – a 22% rise from 2014.

Minister Lim said that some companies set aside “safety budget” to pay for fines of safety infringements, and, citing an incident where an elderly cleaner was lost his balance when sweeping, that companies do not re-design job scope according to the age of the workers.

The Manpower Minister then ended off his speech by pouring praises for the recently-deceased former President SR Nathan, and telling Singaporeans not to forget him:

“We must not forget what Mr Nathan and all the pioneer leaders of Singapore have done… to ensure the progress of Singapore translated to better pay, better work, and better lives for the workers of Singapore.”

Unlike other first world countries, a construction worker in Singapore is not considered as a skilled worker. There is barely any qualification required for any foreign labour to be hired as a general worker. The lack of education and training is often the real cause of death as these workers fail to assess the consequences of their actions.