Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Worker's safety - are we serious?

The Straits Times today also carried a report on the recent lorry accident where 3 workers riding in an open topped lorry died. The accompanying report by Ng & Chin, highlighted the inadequacy of safety measures in the transport of workers to and from their worksites.

I was horrified to find out that employers were given up to 2012 to comply with the improved safety measures. 2012? If measures are unsafe, they should be stopped dead in their tracks. Full stop. Is the MOM and the LTA really serious about workers health and safety?

These have obvious resonance with a previous posting on safety vests worn by workers. In case employers and the MOM don't know, the purpose of wearing the vests is to improve visibility. There really is no point in wearing those fluorescent green vests if they are muddy faded and no more fluorescent.

We had similar nonsense during the recent H1N1 shamdemic when we had rules galore, which no one seriously implemented. Just a show about being safe. Similarly, pages of lab safety guidelines that sounded fantastic, and which can be shown to accrediting agencies, when everybody knew that they could not be implemented.

I mean, are we really serious about worker's safety?


Shilka said...

Some countries are serious about their work safety measures - but whole society pays a bitter price - hardly any small or medium business is profitable, because costs of implementing safety measures is high. Singapore looks at safety with just one eye, but in the end roads and buildings get builds and businesses operate. The cost of paying out renumeration upon death or serious injury is still lower than implementing safety measures.

Gary said...

Shilka, you are absolutely right. The govt is PRO-business and PRO-employer. The rest of the deal is just plain old 'capital resources' - no name, no life, expendable resources that are easily replaceable.

gigamole said...

Truth is safety carries a cost. Cost of implementing and of regulating. Singapore tends to talk about it but often only nominally pays attention to the implementation and regulation.

Paul Ananth said...

With all due respect, the first comment was the kind of thinking that got us into trouble with SARS in the first place!

People said, why bother with employee health programs, surveillance of staff illness, respiratory isolation, novel diagnostics for emerging respiratory viruses etc??? Those are for countries that squander huge proportions of their GDP on healthcare. We all know what that kind of thinking got us and thankfully, we have learned our lesson well here.

Besides, that, I find it hard to believe that the Scandinavian countries which have among the best worker protections in the world have unprofitable companies such as Ikea, Nokia, AB Biodisk, Novo etc