Speech at 'Drive Safe, Work Safe' Campaign Launch
Mr Zaqy Mohamad Minister of State for Manpower, Woodlands Transport Holdings Pte Ltd
Mr Albert Lim, Group Managing Director, Woodlands Transport Holdings
Mr John Ng, Chairman of Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council,
Mr Melvin Yong, Director (Tripartism), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC),
Members of the WSH Council (Logistics & Transport) Committee,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- I am happy to launch the ‘Drive Safe, Work Safe’ campaign today. The campaign targets one of three key areas of prevention under the National Workplace Safety and Health campaign for 2018, namely Vehicular Safety.
Vehicular Safety remains a concern
- Vehicular incidents were the top contributor to work-related fatalities last year, with 14 cases, making up one-third of all fatal injuries. Half of all vehicular-related incidents occurred within worksites, while the other half were on public roads.
- This year, there seems to be early signs of improvement, with two fatalities arising from vehicular incidents within the first five months of this year. I hope that the number stops here, and I think it is possible, as we have learnt that such incidents are preventable. Let me share two examples.
- In the first case, two workers were tipping a garbage bin into the rear of a garbage truck, when the truck started rolling backwards down a slight slope. The workers tried to stop the truck, which included an attempt by one of them to place a wheel chock behind the rear wheel of the moving truck, but were unsuccessful. One of the workers was eventually ran over by the truck.
- In another case, a security guard who was walking across the driveway of a factory before daybreak was knocked down by a passenger van that was turning towards the main gate. While the driver of the passenger van had likely failed to keep a proper lookout for the security guard, the unsafe conditions within the factory premises, such as the layout and lighting conditions, had also contributed to the accident.
- In both these examples, the tragic loss of life could have been prevented if simple steps were taken, such as chocking the wheels of a vehicle before commencing work, or properly managing traffic movement within a workplace.
Both employers and workers have a part to play in safety and health
- Everyone has a part to play in ensuring safety and health at work – employers as well as workers.
- Employers should build a culture of care at the workplace so that a culture of prevention can prevail in the organisation in the long run. We strongly encourage senior management to do regular walkabouts at workplaces and speak to their workers about their work processes and challenges. By doing so, not only would they demonstrate care for their workers, but they would also better understand the WSH issues that workers face, and can then implement simple yet effective preventive measures to address such issues. For example, work schedules, overtime work and short breaks in between trips could be properly designed to address the issue of driver fatigue.
- I am happy to see that Woodlands Transport has started building its own unique culture of care and prevention, by tapping on the rich operating knowledge of their experienced drivers. Through their workplace trainer programme, these drivers are empowered to play the role of in-house trainers and impart their WSH knowledge to other drivers. I witnessed one such training session earlier, and was heartened to see the enthusiasm and camaraderie between the drivers, who work together to improve WSH standards here.
- The company has also gone the extra mile to create their own safety videos in various languages so that all their drivers are able to understand the safety messages, as the drivers come from different backgrounds. Woodlands Transport’s efforts are commendable, and I hope other companies will do the same.
- Drivers, too, should play their part in improving WSH standards. They should adhere to safety guidelines and not take simple steps for granted, such as fully engaging the handbrake or using wheel chocks where necessary. Drivers should also be proactive about taking care of their health, such as being well rested before getting behind the wheel, adjusting their seats and steering wheels to a comfortable driving position, and performing stretching exercises to relieve muscle tension after long journeys.
‘Drive Safe, Work Safe’ Campaign
- To spread these messages to employers and workers, the WSH Council will kick off its ‘Drive Safe, Work Safe’ Campaign today. During last year’s campaign, which ran from September to November, over 270 companies organised their own promotional activities to raise awareness on vehicular safety in support of the campaign. We engaged about 10,000 drivers through a series of engagement efforts, which included print and digital advertisements, a short video focusing on blind spot hazards, and vocational driver notebooks which were distributed through companies and associations.
- I am also pleased to see more collaborative efforts among organisations in support of the campaign. For instance, last month, the WSH Council, Singapore Road Safety Council and Traffic Police collaborated on a Road Safety Seminar for close to 200 safety professionals and employers at the launch of Singapore’s Road Safety Month.
- This year, the WSH Council will be ramping up its engagement efforts, and targets to double its outreach to 20,000 drivers. I hope and urge more companies to come forth to act on the WSH Council’s call to action - to ‘Take Time to Take Care’ of your safety and health - in support of the campaign.
Initiatives to help companies to improve vehicular safety
- To further help companies improve WSH capabilities, MOM will be ramping up its “Managing Onsite Vehicular Safety” programme, or MOVeS. Under MOVeS, WSH professionals will assist companies to develop and implement improved traffic management systems within worksites. Where needed, the WSH professional will also propose new technology for companies to adopt. The MOVeS programme benefitted about 80 companies last year in the logistics and transport, and construction sectors. We will increase the number of visits conducted to 120 companies this year, and we hope to also extend the programme to other sectors.
- We also urge companies to tap on technology to innovate safety solutions in their workplace. Last year, the Ministry of Manpower launched its inaugural WSH Technology Challenge, calling for companies to submit technological proposals to tackle work-related vehicular incidents. More than 30 companies participated. Five winning entries were selected by a panel of judges comprising members from MOM, WSH Council, Land Transport Authority, Traffic Police, GOVTech and Enterprise Singapore. The winning entries provide remarkable solutions for the industry to address common vehicular safety concerns. For example, one entry will develop a headband to harness the use of brain wave signals to monitor driver fatigue. The entries will be awarded funding to research and develop new solutions to improve vehicular safety, as well as to test-bed available products in vehicle fleets. As I was sharing with the drivers I met earlier, one of the key reasons why we are always concerned about workers’ safety is that an injury does not affect just the worker, but also the worker’s family, as an injury may affect the worker’s livelihood. I’m encouraged that Woodlands Transport is also test-bedding one of the awarded projects in their vehicles, that uses cameras to detect driver fatigue and distraction. With this I hope we will find a way to use technology to help us address safety issues so that we can keep drivers safe.
- Addressing vehicular safety requires a multi-agency, multi-pronged approach. We have forged inter-government collaborations, built partnerships with industry, strengthened and deepened ties with employers and developed technology to improve safety standards. We will continue to work with employers, workers and unions to do more to address vehicular safety. Let us all continue to take time to take care and work together to make our workplaces safe and healthy for our workers.
- Thank you.