About the Singapore Construction Health Project

The project title is: “Occupational Ill-health in the Singapore Construction Sector: Cancer and Non-Malignant Respiratory Diseases”

The short title for the project is: ConstructHealth.Sg


Construction work Singapore. Image courtesy of “National Population and Talent Division, Prime Minister’s Office”

There are many more deaths from occupational diseases in Singapore than from fatal workplace accidents. The two most important types of fatal workplace diseases are cancers and chronic respiratory diseases.  In Britain, these occupational diseases account for 12,000 deaths each year. However, we do not know how many people in Singapore die from these diseases, and there are no simple ways of counting which cases were caused by work.  

To arrive at reliable statistics about the cancer and respiratory diseases caused by work it is necessary to rely on indirect estimates using scientific knowledge of the risks from workplace exposures and the numbers of people who may be exposed.  The team that have put forward this research proposal have pioneered these techniques in Britain, and the planned work will allow similar estimates to be made in Singapore, i.e. the number of new cases of workplace cancer and respiratory disease occurring each year, the number of deaths from these diseases and a measure of the disability that people experience from their illness.

The main focus of the research will be the construction sector, which is likely to contribute the largest share of these workplace diseases in Singapore.  We plan to work closely with government and industry stakeholders to ensure that the research takes full account of local circumstances. We will also discuss how the industry might move forward towards the WSHI Vision Zero goals. This will involve agreeing what kinds of changes could be made in the construction industry, for example keeping exposure to dusts under tighter control or working towards goals of continuous improvement.    Based on this information we will be able to provide, for each “alternate future”, an estimate of the possible lives saved and the number of diseases prevented, all in relation to the situation if nothing is done to change the working environment. 

Aims and Objectives

The main aim of this research is to provide an assessment of the amount disease associated with the construction industry and to provide clear strategies to minimize the amount of this disease in the future.

This project will make an assessment of the current and future occupational cancer and non-malignant respiratory disease burden for the Singapore construction sector. The future disease burden assessments will evaluate the likely impact of a number of practical intervention strategies designed to manage specific workplace risks. 

The scope of the project includes all construction work in Singapore, including the marine construction sector. 

Focus group discussions

During the initial stage of our research, a series of focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders and experts is needed to a) gain information about the historical development of the construction sector including workforce structure, key jobs and agents of exposure, b) discuss how the industry can work towards the government’s Vision Zero goals , and c) ensure our research takes full account of circumstances unique to Singapore.


Further information

Information about the UK cancer burden study can be accessed here.

Project Links

You can visit our company website at www.IOM-world.sg