When dealing with Work Injury Compensation Insurance, you may come across the word “Incompatible works”. This can result in workplace injuries occurring in many industries including marine, oil & gas, manufacturing (chemical / pharmaceutical / food), waste management etc.
Unfortunately, companies (be it a SME or a MNC) at times often ignore or overlook the dangers/risks that come with incompatible works. This is notwithstanding that workplace injuries arising from incompatible works for any industry could also warrant a prosecution action and/fine from the Ministry of Manpower.
What is Incompatible Work
Incompatible work occurs when two or more high-risk work activities are being carried out in the same vicinity at the same time. Both sets of workers will be exposed to hazards created from their work and an overlapping set of hazards from the other activity. Typical examples of incompatible work include:
- Workers on a scaffold whilst a crane is hoisting materials above the scaffold
- Movement of forklifts in an area where workers are carrying out checks on inventory in a warehouse
- Hot-work near a chemical storage area, resulting in a mix of incompatible chemicals
How to mitigate incompatible work
Segregating different type of works – be it in a factory, worksite, shipyard or even offices would be the ideal solution. However, real-time scenarios sometimes pose challenges including tight work schedules, limited space and needed interfacing works.
In some countries, mandatory legal requirements drive the mitigating measures to manage incompatible work. For instance, all construction worksites and shipyards in Singapore are required to implement a permit to work system for specific high risk works. The permit to work system invokes an assessment process prior to the high-risk work activity which includes identifying possible incompatible work within the work area. Apart from the construction industry, there are mandatory permit-to-work requirements for working at height and works in confined spaces which are applicable in all workplaces.
A worker’s awareness of workplace hazards is also critical in enabling the worker to report incompatible work when it occurs. In addition, an effective site safety oversight team will deter parties from carrying out incompatible work at a workplace. Progressive safety culture in a workplace creates an environment where workers report unsafe activity such as incompatible work and propose solutions to mitigate the hazard and improve the current situation.
Many workplaces have difficulties in managing incompatible works. Some workplace injuries occur in environments that are not typically regarded as high risk.
It is thus important for your companies to identify your potential incompatible works within your workplaces and introduce preventive measures to mitigate the risk of workplace injury befalling on their staff/workers.
Some Work Injury Compensation Insurance providers partner with safety management and audit organizations to provide exclusive risk engineering services through Onsite Dialogues for selected clients.
Through Onsite Dialogues, the Risk Engineering Team can assist your company by assessing the state of occupational health and safety risks at your workplaces and offer possible mitigation measures with the aim to minimise accidents and propagating safer and better workplaces.
To find out more on this service, please contact us using the form below.