1. The Workgroup1, co-chaired by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in consultation with various stakeholders - industry groups, safety experts and transport operators, has completed its review on measures to enhance the safety of workers transported on lorries. Among the set of stringent measures recommended to enhance the safety of workers transported on lorries are stiffer penalties for errant lorry owners and drivers who flout safety regulations, ramping up of enforcement activities and tightening of rules for carrying workers on the carriage deck of lorries.
2. These measures have been accepted by the Government and will be rolled out progressively in the next three years.
3. Findings from the Workgroup show that the current safety and enforcement measures have generally been effective in keeping the fatality and injury rates of workers transported at the back of lorries low (please see Annex A for details of current measures). Fatality / injury rates involving workers transported on the carriage deck of lorries were much lower compared to all road accidents 2 . However, the Workgroup recognises that as a significant number of workers (estimated to be more than 200,000 workers) are transported on lorries daily across industries, there is a need to enhance existing measures to further improve the safety of workers.
4. The Workgroup has recommended various measures that would be phased in over 3 years. Measures that would be implemented are:
From 1 September 2009
i. Lower maximum allowable height of a seated worker
To further lower the risk of a worker falling off from the back of a lorry, no part of the worker when he is in a sitting position shall be more than 1.1 metres from the carriage deck. This is lower than the current requirement which specifies that no part of the worker, when he is in a sitting position, shall be more than 3.2 metres above the road surface.
ii. Passenger seat(s) in the lorry's cabin must be filled up before workers can be carried at the rear carriage of lorries
All the passenger seat(s) in the lorries' cabin must be filled up before workers can be transported on the carriage deck. Aside from the benefit of having more passengers seated in a safer environment, the front seat passenger(s) can also assist the driver by ensuring that workers carried on the carriage deck area, if any, are properly seated, and remind the driver to abide by the speed limit.
iii. Enforcement operations further stepped up
Enforcement activities have been intensified against lorry drivers who do not observe safety regulations since 2008. This will be further stepped up.
iv. Penalties for non-compliance enhanced
Penalties will be enhanced for drivers and owners who fail to comply with safety regulations, including carrying excess workers above the vehicle's Maximum Passenger Capacity (MPC).
v. Hotline to report non-compliance with safety regulations
The public can help by calling the LTA Hotline (1800-CALL LTA) to report any instances of non-compliance spotted on the road, such as lorries carrying excess workers or in a dangerous / precarious manner.
vi. Expand outreach programmes
Ensuring safety is the joint responsibility of the Government, employers, drivers, workers and other road users. Government agencies such as LTA, MOM, Traffic Police and the various associations will continue in outreach programmes to educate employers and workers on their responsibilities and showcase welfare and safety best practices.
From 1 January 2010
vii. Lorries registered from 1 January 2010 and used for carrying workers on the carriage deck must be fitted with higher protective side railings - up to a height of at least 700 mm (up from 550 mm) from the carriage deck, and at least 300 mm (up from 150 mm) from the top of the side-boards. To effectively shelter workers from inclement weather, lorries will also need to be fitted with canopies if they are to carry passengers on the carriage deck.
From 1 September 2012
viii. Minimum deck space required per seated worker will be doubled to 8 square feet from the current 4 square feet from 1 September 2012. This will reduce the number of workers that can be transported on lorries as compared to what is stipulated today, and will lower the risk exposure in the event of an accident. The lead time of three years will also allow businesses to phase in operational changes and make decisions on their existing assets.
Measures for existing lorries
5. For existing lorries, owners will be given a lead time of three years (i.e. up to 31 August 2012) to install the higher protective side railings and canopies, if they are to continue to be used to transport workers.
6. For more details of the new measures, please see Annex B.
7. In addition, current safety regulations as follows will continue to apply:
i. Vehicle must not travel faster than the posted road speed limit or the vehicle speed limit of 60 km/h, whichever is lower
ii. Maximum Passenger Capacity (MPC) label must be displayed on the lorry. Owners who wish to use their lorries to carry their workers must display a Maximum Passenger Capacity (MPC) label on the right side of the rear tailboard indicating the maximum number of workers that can be transported.
iii. Goods transported must be properly secured
If goods are also transported, they must be properly secured such that they will not endanger the workers carried or other road users 3 . Industry Stakeholders Support New Measures
8. Mr Jeremy Yap, co-chair of the Workgroup and Group Director, Vehicle and Transit Licensing with LTA, said, "The more stringent measures took into account various considerations. These measures prioritise safety within practical and reasonable limits. We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with stakeholders to ensure the safe transportation of workers."
9. Mr Chan Yew Kwong, co-chair of the Workgroup and Deputy Director of MOM's Construction and Equipment Safety Branch, added, "The measures recommended by the Workgroup will help to enhance the safety of workers traveling on lorries. All stakeholders, including employers, drivers and workers, need to do their part to implement these measures, follow safety rules and keep our workers safe as they are ferried to and from the worksites."
10. Mr Poh Key Boon, Chairman, Land Transportation Committee, Singapore Logistics Association supported the new measures, stating, "We recognise that lorry owners, drivers and workers will be affected due to the more stringent measures. However, great care and consideration went into ensuring minimal impact and maximising the safety and welfare of workers being transported on the back of lorries. We encourage lorry owners, drivers and workers to start taking an active role today to ensure safety comes first during the journey."
11. Mr Tan Jin Thong, President of the National Safety Council of Singapore affirmed, "Safety is of course a primary concern. At the same time, we are glad that the workgroup's recommendations are reasonable and practical such that it does not paralyse the affected industries. Although the industries will require some form of adjustment such as displaced workers and stiffer penalties, this is supported because the lives of everyone including workers are precious and we see the importance of making their journeys as safe as possible."
12. Mr Chua Chee Wai, Head, Operations and Training, Traffic Police, and Workgroup member said, "Everyone has a shared responsibility to make journeys safer for workers. This includes lorry drivers who also need to exercise care for their passengers and observe safe driving habits. So, let's all play our part and keep our roads safe."
Annex A: Existing Safety Measures for Workers Transported on Lorries
Annex B: Details of Measures to Enhance Safety of workers
Annex C: Executive Summary of Workgroup's Review
1 The Workgroup, co-chaired by LTA and MOM, was formed in 2008 to review and further enhance the safety of workers transported on lorries. Members comprise of Association of Singapore Marine Industries (ASMI), Defence, Science & Technology Agency (DSTA), Ministry of Transport (MOT), National Safety Council of Singapore (NSC), Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL), Singapore Logistics Association (SLA), Singapore School & Private Hire Bus Owners' Association (SSPHBOA), Singapore School Transport Association (SSTA), Singapore Transport Association (STA), and the Traffic Police (TP).
2 Over the past several years, both the fatality and injury rates were about 6 times lower than the annual average fatality and injury rates of all road accidents over the same period.
3 Open lorries with a maximum laden weight not exceeding 3,500 kg which are only used to transport goods (i.e. not used to transport workers) will still be required to have side protective railings along the sideboards of the rear carriage deck to prevent goods from falling off the carriage deck.