Speech at 3rd International Advisory Panel Meeting on Workplace Safety and Health
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, Goodwood Park Hotel
Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, Acting Chairman, Workplace Safety and Health Council
Mr Hawazi Daipi, Co-Chair of the International Advisory Panel, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower
Distinguished members of the 3rd International Advisory Panel,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Thank you for attending today’s plenary session with members of the 3rd International Advisory Panel (or IAP) on Workplace Safety and Health (WSH). Your presence here signifies the industry’s interest in keeping up to date with new strategies to manage WSH issues. More importantly, it signifies your commitment towards reducing safety and health risks at work in Singapore.
Singapore’s WSH Statistics
- Singapore has come a long way in our WSH journey. With the support of the WSH Council and the industry, we have successfully brought down our workplace fatality rate from 3.1 fatalities per 100,000 persons employed in 2006, to a new low of 2.2 fatalities per 100,000 persons employed in 2010. We have also extended the WSH Act to cover all workplaces from September this year, a significant milestone towards greater WSH awareness and compliance. While we have had some successes, we cannot be complacent. We must continue to strive to improve. In the first half of this year, 30 lives were lost to workplace accidents. That is 30 lives too many. We can do more and we owe it to our employees and their families to do more.
Role of IAP
- The IAP was first convened in 2006 as an integral part of Singapore’s WSH reform. The IAP’s task was to
a) Share significant industry trends that will affect WSH in Singapore;
b) Share other countries’ experiences in dealing with WSH challenges; and
c) Advice and critique on the WSH standards, practices and regulatory regime in Singapore
We wanted to tap on the IAP’s expertise to improve WSH standards in Singapore so that we can be a WSH hub in the region and to have safety records comparable to countries most established in WSH.
Impact of IAP on Singapore’s WSH Framework
- Over the past 5 years, the IAP has been a key partner in our WSH efforts. Recommendations from the IAP contributed to the establishment of the WSH Council in 2008 and helped develop it into an anchor of our WSH framework, pivotal to our efforts to raise WSH standards in Singapore. The Council now plays a key role in building industry WSH capabilities; promoting awareness of WSH issues; and setting acceptable WSH practices, in Singapore.
- IAP recommendations were also a key influence in our decision to establish the WSH Institute in April this year. The WSH Institute is a key component of our WSH framework poised to support our goal to become a centre of WSH leadership development, WSH research and innovation, and WSH knowledge and solutions in Asia.
- Today, we are honoured to have with us, in the IAP, seven distinguished experts from the international WSH community, with wide-ranging regulatory and industry experience, to share their expertise with us. The IAP members have had a busy schedule over the past two days deliberating on Singapore’s next strategic focus for Workplace Safety and Health. They reviewed two strategy papers drafted by MOM, the WSH Council and the WSH Institute outlining our ideas to:
a) Build a progressive and pervasive WSH culture in Singapore; and
b) Create and Enhance WSH knowledge in Singapore
and they have also reviewed the progress of WSH developments here since their last visit. Through their deliberations, the panel members have formulated nine recommendations to propel us to the next stage of our Workplace Safety & Health journey.
- Before I end my speech and invite Dr Walter Eicherndorf to share the IAP’s recommendations with us, I would like to end off by thanking all who are present for your continued support of our efforts to raise WSH standards in Singapore. I am confident that with the support of all stakeholders, who are well represented at today’s plenary session, we will be able to achieve our goal of below 1.8 fatalities by 2018 and take a step closer towards becoming a WSH hub for the region.
- Let me now invite Dr Eicherndorf to share the IAP recommendations with us. Dr Eicherndorf please. Thank you.