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Speech at Launch of Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for Manpower, Jurong Town Hall

Engineer Lucas Ng, Chairman of Jurong Island Vision Zero Working Group,
Mr John Ng, Chairman of Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council,
Mr Karthikeyan s/o R. Krishnamurthy, Chairman of Workplace Safety and Health Council (Chemical Industries) Committee,
Jurong Island stakeholders,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

  1. Jurong Island is home to many companies that perform refining, petrochemical and specialty chemicals activities. These companies employ thousands of workers who carry out process operations involving hazardous materials such as crude oil, flammable petroleum products, and corrosive chemicals. During maintenance or turnarounds, many more workers are involved. Hence, the workplace safety and health (WSH) standards on the island must be maintain at the highest level possible.
  2. Any lapses in safety procedures may result in loss of lives, and injuries. There will certainly be business losses as well. For example, in 2016, an oil tank fire broke out on the island and was only subdued after about five hours. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, but I am sure precious time and resources were lost during and after the fire.
  3. How, then, do we make sure that each of the workers on Jurong Island can return home safe and healthy every day, and companies can continue to be productive without interruption?

    Launch of Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster
  4. One way to do so is to embrace the Vision Zero mindset. 25 companies on the island have committed to Vision Zero, and are taking it one step further – by launching the Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster today. The cluster brings like-minded companies together, unified in the belief that every workplace injury and ill-health is preventable, to take proactive steps to achieve this vision together. This cluster approach also presents additional benefits to the companies involved. Rather than working individually, these companies can learn from one another’s experiences and share best practices and innovations to improve WSH standards.
  5. I would like to applaud these companies and their employees for committing to implement measures to eliminate or mitigate operational risks in their respective workplaces. I hope more companies come on board the Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster soon, and other industries will also be inspired to form their own versions of Vision Zero clusters.

    Examples of VZ Companies
  6. Earlier on, Engineer Lucas Ng highlighted the five key attributes that the companies in the Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster have pledged to uphold. Let me share three examples how some companies have demonstrated these key attributes.
  7. At Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS), contractors are regarded not just as service providers, but as partners who are accorded the same safety, health, and security provisions as their own employees. This is a positive demonstration that collective ownership for WSH extends beyond the company or contractual boundary. The management staff of contractors are invited to PCS’ WSH meetings to get first-hand information of the company’s direction on WSH matters. In return, PCS receives timely and regular feedback from its contractors on the areas that need improvement. Through regular engagements with its contractors’ association, PCS effectively empowers its contractors to take on a proactive role in WSH matters, and build a strong and inclusive partnership with them.
  8. At the Singapore Refining Company (SRC), the ‘Safe Work Practices Verify & Validate (V&V) Program’ allows department managers or trained representatives to engage field workers on potentially hazardous work activities with high impact consequences, such as working in confined space and hot work. The verification on site with field workers is not a “tick the box” audit exercise. Instead, it is designed to be consultative. The groups engage with field workers on current work procedures and safety matters. This approach encourages field workers to give feedback and suggest improvements on existing work procedure when they validate that safe work procedures are being followed. This initiative is a clear demonstration of a preventive and proactive mindset.
  9. Similarly, Vopak Terminals Singapore proactively conducts observation rounds to verify that site activities are being carried out in a safe manner and that there is control over work processes. Employees are reminded that despite having the right people, contractors, tools and systems in place, mistakes can still happen. The observation rounds, conducted by employees, empower individual employees to take ownership of the WSH intervention they propose. This in turn breeds a culture where everyone takes care and looks out for one another.
  10. The three examples I have shared are just some ways of cultivating strong WSH ownership among employees and contractors. All three examples share one common trait - the commitment of senior management to prioritise safety and health first. By pledging to uphold the five attributes, their influence will extend beyond the company and influence working relationships with contractors and vendors as well.
  11. In the long term, good WSH management and performance is a competitive advantage and useful branding for companies and industries operating in Singapore, and Jurong Island in particular. This will have an impact on the creation of business opportunities, and in attracting talent.

  12. Jurong Island already prides itself as one with high workplace safety and health standards. I believe that there are many others amongst you who share the same belief or have the five key attributes. I urge you to come forward to be a part of the Vision Zero community. I am sure that Lucas, or any one from the Working Group, will be pleased to have a chat with you on how you can contribute to making a difference in the workplace safety and health standards on Jurong Island.
  13. I hope that with the collective efforts and commitment of everyone here, we can band together to ensure that it remains accident free over the next decade and beyond.
  14. Let this be the beginning of a new phase of development for WSH at Jurong Island! Thank you.