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Opening Address by Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower at the Workplace Traffic Safety Management Forum, 02 September 2013, 2.00 pm, Orchard Hotel

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

  1. Good afternoon. I am pleased to join you here at today’s inaugural Workplace Traffic Safety Management Forum. Today’s forum is organised by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and WSH Council, with the support of the Traffic Police and Singapore Road Safety Council. Through this forum, we hope to bring together business leaders, stakeholders, support groups as well as regulators, to share and discuss strategies on work-related road safety and how you can manage road safety as an integral part of daily work. I hope that everyone will find this event a fruitful one.

    The role of businesses in traffic safety
  2. Work-related traffic safety is an important WSH issue. Last year, we saw 13 lives lost as a result of work-related traffic accidents. This is a concern as accidents such as these affect not only businesses but to workers’ families and society as a whole. Therefore, more needs to be done to help drivers stay safe while on the roads.
  3. Each and every one of us must do our part and not rely on the efforts of the Traffic Police alone. Not only must we drive safely ourselves, we must also try to influence fellow drivers to do the same. As business leaders that have control over a large fleet of vehicles and drivers, your role is especially important.
  4. According to statistics provided by the Land Transport Authority, private cars and motorcycles make up about 70% of our vehicle population.1 The remaining 30% of vehicles are used for work. This means that business leaders have direct control over 30% of Singapore’s vehicle population, or almost 300,000 vehicles. Considering that these vehicles spend more time on roads than private vehicles, your ability to influence road safety is significant.

    Why businesses must do their part
  5. As employers, you have a legal duty under the WSH Act to ensure the safety and health of your workers, including vocational drivers. You also have a legal duty to ensure that no one comes to any harm as a result of the work you do; and this includes ensuring that no one gets hurt by your vehicles. However, traffic safety is not just about complying with the law.
  6. It goes without saying that it makes good business sense to ensure that your employees do not get involved in traffic accidents. Accidents are costly. They create unnecessary operational delays and increase business costs. But most importantly, traffic accidents affect everyone, not only drivers but everyone who uses our roads, including our children, family, and loved ones. When we drive in an unsafe manner, or when we allow others to do so, we are putting those who are dearest to our hearts at risk.
  7. We cannot assume and shift the responsibility on driving safely solely to the drivers. As business owners, you have an important role to play. Managing your fleet and ensuring that your drivers drive safely is not a difficult process. The fundamental principles of WSH, such as risk management, can and should be applied. In this instance, employers should conduct a risk assessment to assess if work schedules, routes or other factors such as the condition of the transport vehicle will affect the safety of drivers as they go about their work. It is essential, however, that employers are committed to the cause. It is only with the support and buy-in of top management, will a company be able to implement safety and health measures successfully.
  8. Poh Tiong Choon Logistics is one such company which has implemented good initiatives to protect the safety of its drivers. For example, each driver is rewarded with monetary incentives based on his safety performance for the year. The company also issues luminous uniforms and vests to vehicle drivers and employees who commute by motorcycles respectively. This enhances their visibility to other road users at the workplace as well as on the public road. To manage fatigue, night shift drivers are required to take compulsory break periods during their work shifts. For OCWS Logistics, vehicle checks are carried out daily to ensure vehicle systems are working properly and safe for use. To prepare its drivers on potential hazards along the work journey and encourage safe driving behaviour, the company implements a thorough journey management system. This includes mapping of route hazards and a live GPS tracking system to monitor safety violations. These are just some WSH initiatives that Poh Tiong Choon and OCWS Logistics have put in place for their drivers and I encourage other companies to do so as well.

    Initiatives to support businesses in work-related road safety efforts
  9. On MOM and the WSH Council’s front, we will work closely with the Traffic Police, Singapore Road Safety Council (or SRSC) and the industry and support work-related road safety efforts through various initiatives.
  10. The WSH Council in collaboration with the SRSC, are currently developing a set of practical guidelines on workplace traffic safety which will include information on how to better plan driving routes, manage the maintenance of vehicles and work schedules of drivers. The guidelines will help you better manage and the safety of your drivers and set good industry standards. The draft is available for feedback on the WSH Council website. I urge everyone to take a look at the guidelines and share any useful ideas you may have.
  11. In addition to the guidelines, we will also be launching a new workplace traffic safety video today. The video will guide drivers on the fundamentals of safe driving and I hope that everyone can make full use of the video when it is released.
  12. Today also marks a key development in the partnership between MOM, WSH Council, Traffic Police and SRSC to reach out to drivers and educate them on safe road behaviour. Together, we will be organising two traffic safety clinics after this forum to provide practical guidance to the industry on operational traffic management issues.
  13. In the area of research, the WSH Institute has commenced a study on the impact of fatigue on road safety2. MOM is also conducting a trial to assess the efficacy of fleet management systems on traffic safety. My colleagues will elaborate on these studies at a later part of this forum.

    Tracking the outcomes of our effort
  14. As we ramp up efforts to improve safety on our roads, we must not neglect to keep tabs on our progress to ensure that we are on the right track.
  15. To better track the safety of drivers and improve work-related road safety, MOM will be amending the WSH (Incident Reporting) Regulations to require companies to report all work-related traffic accidents in the first quarter of next year. This amendment will enable us to be more effective in tracking the frequency and causes of work-related traffic accidents to identify possible areas of intervention.
  16. Likewise from this year, the bi-annual WSH Statistics report will also be enhanced to include work-related traffic accidents3. The information will help you and your workers gain an initial understanding of where such cases are happening and therefore take measures to prevent similar accidents.

  17. 17. In conclusion, l would like to remind the industry that small improvements to work processes and WSH management can lead to large benefits not just for your employees and business, but also for all other road users. Each of us has a stake in road safety as everyone is a road user and it is important that others are not put at risk by work-related driving activities. With everyone’s involvement and commitment, we can address the risks associated with work-related driving and improve overall road safety. Thank you and I wish you a fruitful forum.

1 According to the Land Transport Authority’s Singapore Land Transport: Statistics in Brief 2013 Report, there are 520,614 private cars and 146,559 motorcycles out of 956,704 total numbers of vehicles.
2 The WSH Institute has commenced a study to look at the impact of rotating night shift on workers in the logistics and transportation sector. One of the areas being studied is the possibility of fatigue and how that can be better addressed. The study is in progress and is expected to be completed in early 2014.
3 The half-yearly WSH Statistics Report by the WSH Institute will be issued later in the week to include work-related traffic accidents, based on figures from the Traffic Police.