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Singapore aims to provide workers with among the safest and healthiest workplaces in the world

  1. After over a year’s deliberation and 28 engagement sessions with close to 3,000 stakeholders1, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) 2028 Tripartite Strategies Committee has recommended strategies to raise Singapore’s WSH performance to be among the best in the world.

    Moving WSH Performance from Good to World-Class
  2. Singapore’s WSH performance has been improving and already compares well internationally. In 2010, Singapore’s 3-year average fatal workplace injury rate was 2.6 per 100,000 workers, or 18th position compared to countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2018, our 3-year average fatality rate was 1.4, or 7th position among OECD countries.
  3. Nonetheless, the Committee’s view is that Singapore should build on this momentum to do even better, to provide our workers with among the safest and healthiest workplaces in the world. Our progress towards achieving this goal can be measured in the following ways:
    i) Fewer workplace injuries – to reduce Singapore’s workplace fatal and major injury rates by 30% before 2028. This would reduce the fatal injury rate to less than 1.0 per 100,000 workers, which only four OECD countries have attained on a sustained basis.
    ii) Reduced exposure to hazards leading to occupational diseases – to increase the share of workplaces that adopt upstream noise and chemical hazard controls from 46% in 2018 to 75% before 2028.
    iii) Expanded workforce health promotion – to have at least half of all employees benefitting from workplace health promotion activities before 2028.
    iv) Stronger WSH culture – to increase the coverage of progressive WSH practices that reflect a culture of prevention, to at least 75% of employees in high-risk industries, up from around 60% in 2017.

    Key Shifts to Achieve Goals
  4. The Committee’s recommendations towards achieving these outcomes seek to shift employer’s mindsets in two key ways.
  5. Firstly, to shift from thinking that WSH is a cost that they need to minimise, to the conviction that good WSH is good for business. This is important as we can bring about a sustained and enduring culture of risk prevention only when companies to be self-motivated to improve their WSH outcomes, and not driven by regulatory requirements.
  6. Specific recommendations to support this shift include:
    i) To publish the WSH outcomes of companies, so that service buyers can make more educated choices on which are safer partners they should contract with.
    ii) To share work injury compensation claims data among insurers, so that safer companies can benefit from cheaper insurance premiums.
    iii) To harmonise the criteria for public sector developers to disqualify unsafe contractors from contracts. This will give contractors with a stronger WSH record a competitive edge in government contracts.
  7. Secondly, to shift from thinking that workers’ individual health is not the employer’s responsibility, to the belief that employers can and should create work environments conducive for good health. This is important as individual health conditions, if not managed properly, can lead to dizziness or loss of consciousness at work. This could compromise the safety of not just the worker himself, but also of his colleagues.
  8. Specific recommendations to support this shift include:
    i) To develop guidelines on practical job adaptations that will allow workers with chronic conditions such as diabetes, to continue working safely.
    ii) To expand access to Total WSH programmes that cater to both injury prevention, and health promotion.
    iii) To train WSH Officers, which are predominantly focused on identify injury risks, to also be able to prevent risks arising from ill-health.
  9. The Executive Summary on the Committee’s recommendations can be found here.
     

FOOTNOTE

  1. International WSH experts, employers, union leaders, workers, trade associations, training providers, voluntary welfare organisations, healthcare institutions, institutes of higher learning, and members of the public.