Inexperienced workers, tight deadlines may have contributed to recent spate of workplace accidents, say experts

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SINGAPORE - An outflow of experienced workers, coupled with tight delivery timelines amid the pandemic could be contributing factors to a recent rise in workplace accidents and deaths, said industry experts.

Workplace Safety and Health(WSH) Council general manager Christopher Koh said feedback from companies indicated that the reopening of borders has resulted in firms facing greater challenges in supervising their workers.

He said: "Right now, firms have access to new workers because the borders are open, but they tend to be less experienced and require more supervision.

"Consequently, more experienced workers are eager to go home since they haven't been back in a long time, and so it creates a manpower constrain, which firms may not be able to adequately supervise."

Nevertheless, he stressed that management had to be responsible for ensuring that safety standards were being upheld regardless, but added that he was optimistic the situation would stabilise eventually.

Mr Koh was speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of a Singapore Contractors Association's (Scal) annual event aimed at raising safety standards in the construction sector on Thursday (June 23). Scal represents more than 3,000 construction firms and allied businesses.

Singapore is facing its worst spate of workplace deaths since 2016 - 27 so far this year- with the construction sector accounting for 10 of them. More than 200 major injuries were reported in the first four months of the year.

Representatives from the sector and safety professionals discussed ways to reduce workplace safety incidents in sharing sessions at the event.

Wee Chwee Huat Scaffolding and Construction assistant operations manager Mathiarasan Subramaniam said employers have a role to play in helping their workers who face mental stress as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the mental stress could distract them from their work, resulting in lapses, citing how some workers were unable to resolve marital problems or land disputes back home due to their inability to leave Singapore.

To tackle mental health issues, he said his firm conducts group sessions for workers to voice out any problems they face, which he said helps to show that "we are here for them".

He added: "The main issue here is sometimes companies treat them as employees. I feel that we should treat them like a family, because they are leavin...

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