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Opening Remarks at Launch of National Workplace Safety and Health Campaign 2018

Mrs Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Manpower, Our Tampines Hub

My Parliamentary colleague, Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower and Foreign Affairs
Mr John Ng, Chairman of WSH Council
Dr Lim Suet Wun, Honorary Secretary of the Singapore National Employers Federation
Mr Ong Hwee Liang, Member of National Trades Union Congress Central Committee and Vice-Chairman of NTUC WSH Committee
Tripartite partners, friends, and colleagues

Good morning,

  1. I am very happy to join you on this occasion, which is organised by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council on their tenth anniversary and coincides with the launch of the National WSH Campaign.
  2. The WSH Council has accomplished much in the last 10 years. They have been able to reach out and bring on board nearly 30,000 companies on the bizSAFE programme. They have been able to provide WSH training for over 2 million workers. Very significantly, all of these efforts culminated in Singapore being able to reduce workplace fatalities to the historic low of 1.2 per 100,000 workers. Well done!
  3. MOM deeply appreciates the contributions of Council members, including the founding Chairman of the WSH Council, Mr Lee Tze Yang, and his successor, Mr Heng Chiang Gnee. They have left very big shoes for Mr John Ng to fill, but I am sure he is more than up to it. We also have a lot to thank to our tripartite and industry partners, and WSH professionals, who have helped make this possible.
  4. Having crossed this major milestone, we face two key challenges. The first, is how to sustain the momentum for the reduction of fatalities at workplaces. It will not be easy, particularly when the construction and marine sectors recover and activity levels go up. This year’s campaign theme “Take time to take care” is a reminder not to let our guard down.
  5. There is another challenge, which we should all be concerned about. In recent years, about half of the workplace fatalities were due to ill health. Clearly, a health focus will also be necessary.
  6. This is why we will partner the Health Promotion Board (HPB) to improve health at workplaces. In particular, we aim to help our workers detect chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and to manage them early.
  7. The WSH Council will target 5 sectors – Transport & Storage, Construction, Manufacturing, Food & Beverage and Cleaning sectors. Over the next 3 years, the aim is to reach out to 40,000 workers and provide them with the tools to practice Total WSH. Among these 40,000 workers, we hope to identify those who are at-risk, or those whose health markers are a cause for concern, and help at least 20 percent of them achieve significant health improvements after one year of intervention. Previously, in the Ministry of Transport, I have seen how it can be done among bus workers, with the support of the employers and active participation of the unions.
  8. Hopefully, this will also help reduce the safety lapses related to poor health. This will benefit not just the workers, but also employers.
  9. We have much work ahead. MOM looks forward to the leadership of the WSH Council and the strong support of our tripartite partners so that our workers and our businesses will enjoy the benefits of improved workplace safety and health.