Vision to Make Workplaces Safer and Healthier

The one-year workplace-fatality rate in Singapore from June 2017 to June 2018 was 1.3 per 100,000 employed persons.

This number is, of course, an improvement from the average rate of 2.1 workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers in Singapore over the last decade since 2008.

However, we must also bear in mind that the improvement isn’t a sustained level of performance. Since Singapore’s workforce is significantly smaller than other nations, this number will likely be prone to fluctuations.

Singapore hasn’t yet achieved the level of performance it wants when it comes to reducing the number of fatalities at the workplace.

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the goal is to bring down the number of workplace fatalities to less than 1 for every 100,000 workers. And the ministry wants to keep this number sustainable.

It would be a big challenge to tackle, but it’s not impossible, according to the MOM. In fact, four countries have managed to consistently keep their workplace fatalities to less than 1 per 100,000 workers – Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden.

To realise its vision of providing one of the safest and healthiest workplaces in the world, Singapore has come up with three broad strategies to bring this to reality within 10 years.

The 10-Year Plan

At the Singapore WSH Conference 2018 recently, WSH Tripartite Strategy Committee Chair John Ng outlined plans called WSH2028.

He spoke about the three strategies that will guide efforts towards WSH2028 outcomes. The first is to deepen WSH ownership by providing incentives that favour companies with better WSH outcomes.

The second would be to renew the focus on workplace health. The committee is seeking to step up on the how workers’ health conditions can affect safety outcomes at work.

The third strategy has to do with promoting technology adoption to advance WSH outcomes. According to the committee, Singapore workplaces should be at the forefront of technology innovation when it comes to WSH.

International Advisory Panel

The International Advisory Panel, which was set up to advise, critique and share approaches the way WSH is handled in Singapore, also made recommendations to the Singapore Government in support of the WSH2028 strategies.

The panel recommended that to reach its goal by 2028, Singapore must strengthen learning from accidents and near-misses. It also called tripartite partners to cooperate to deepen WSH ownership.

Another recommendation was to drive WSH improvement through a Board of Directors, manage health risks in addition to occupational diseases and clarify WSH responsibilities to those who are self-employed.

At the WSH conference, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad accepted the recommendations on behalf of the Government.

In his closing address at the conference, Mr Zaqy said: “The journey will be challenging, but the outcomes are well worth it. Singapore is renowned across the world for our safe streets and food. We should also be renowned for our safe workplaces.

“This would give Singapore-based companies a competitive advantage in securing business here and overseas, since workers will have a more conducive environment to be productive, and clients will have greater assurance that projects will not be delayed by accidents. We are world-class in many areas, and I am confident that Singapore can be world-class in our WSH standards and outcomes too.”

What About Office Workers?

Many of those working in the office might think WSH doesn’t necessarily apply to them, as they are in the “safety” of the office. But they often forget that hazards can also be commonly found there.

Some common types of accidents that can occur at the office are fires, falls, strains and overexertions, falling objects, striking against objects, and being caught in or between objects.

Even poor office ergonomics can have a negative impact on the health of office workers in the long-run.

We mustn’t think that we are safe because we work in an environment where hazards are not apparent. The onus of ensuring good WSH practices is one that every individual worker has to shoulder, regardless of industry or occupation.

To learn about how you can improve safety and health at your workplace, visit the WSH Council website

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