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Opening Address at Workplace Safety and Health Symposium on Cranes 2020

Minister of State for Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Trade Association Hub

Mr Mohamed Abdul Akbar, Chairman, National Crane Safety Taskforce,

Industry partners,

Ladies and gentlemen.

  1. Good morning. Thank you for joining us at the annual WSH Symposium on Cranes 2020.
      
    WSH performance of crane safety – 10 years on

  2. In 2009, Singapore faced a key concern in the high number of Dangerous Occurrences (DOs) involving crane operations.

  3. That was when the Ministry of Manpower and the industry formed the National Crane Safety Taskforce to implement strategies and programmes to reduce crane-related DOs to zero.

  4. The Taskforce’s notable efforts include enhancing the WSH (Operations of Cranes) Regulations and developing the Code of Practice on Safe Lifting Operations in Workplaces to raise the industry’s safety standards.

    a. To build industry capabilities, the Taskforce enhanced the training curriculum for Lifting Supervisors, Crane Operators and Lifting crew, and introduced a new Lorry Crane Operator course.

    b. Publications and collateral on crane safety, such as the Safe Lifting Operation Kit and Lorry Crane Operator Handbook, were also produced to provide practical guidance on the ground.  

  5. These efforts have paid off.

    a. The number of crane-related DOs has declined from 21 cases in 2009 to eight in 2019.

    b. This is good progress. I would like to thank the Chairman, Mr Abdul Akbar and the National Crane Safety Taskforce for their hard work and dedication to improve crane safety over the last 10 years.

    c. However, as the fatal crane accident at a Novena worksite in November 2019 has reminded us – crane-related DOs can have catastrophic consequences. Thus, we must continue to put in effort to strive for zero crane-related DOs.
     
    Journeying towards WSH 2028

  6. Last year, Singapore launched our national WSH 2028 strategies following extensive consultations with our tripartite partners.

    a. The ten-year plan aims to raise Singapore’s WSH performance to be among the best globally by reducing Singapore’s workplace fatality rate to less than 1.0 per 100,000 workers by 2028.

    b. The three strategies are strengthening WSH ownership, enhancing focus on workplace health and promoting technology-enabled WSH. 

  7. To achieve our aspiration, we must persevere in our journey and find ways to implement the three WSH 2028 strategies in our work. The crane industry has an important part to play in this endeavour. Let me share more.    

    A technology-enabled approach to safe lifting


  8. First, companies should leverage on technology to create safer work environments.

    a. Based on investigations, the main cause of over half of the lorry crane-related DOs from 2015 to 2019 was due to the outriggers not fully extended and deployed, resulting in the cranes toppling. 

  9. Technologies such as the Stability Control System (SCS) can detect the position of outriggers and compute the safe zone for crane operations.

    a. If the crane operator tries to operate the lorry crane beyond the safe zone, the SCS will stop the crane from doing so and bring it back to safety.

    b. Here’s an example to demonstrate how it works.

  10. To this end, I am delighted to share that six government agencies will sign a Declaration of Commitment later to put in place tender requirements for new and existing lorry cranes to be installed with SCS.

    a. By encouraging more crane contractors to adopt the technology, we can collectively raise the WSH standards of the crane industry.

  11. Another technology that has significantly improved crane safety is data loggers, which record key data of crane operations.

    a. Such data allows worksite occupiers and crane owners to establish root causes of incidents accurately so that companies can better plan and manage their lifting operations safely.

    b. Since August 2018, all mobile cranes in Singapore have been equipped with data loggers. 

  12. To help the industry tap the full potential of data loggers, MOM has developed a set of practices that companies can adopt to implement a robust management system for safer use of cranes.

    a. It includes downloading and reviewing data from the loggers regularly to identify critical events such as the overloading and bypassing of safety devices.

    b. Compiling a review report of such events and taking appropriate actions will enable companies to make systemic improvements for safe lifting operations.
       
    Strengthening ownership of WSH


  13. Second, companies and workers must take greater ownership to instil a pervasive culture of care, trust and injury prevention.

    a. In response to the spate of workplace fatalities in November last year, 23 companies had heeded the Singapore Contractors Association Limited and WSH Council’s call to conduct Safety Time Outs at 54 worksites.

    b. Many of them had improved their work processes and implemented measures to protect their workers.

  14. To deepen the industry’s risk management capabilities, MOM and the WSH Council will be launching two new sets of WSH guidelines on crane safety.

    a. The first set promotes the safe use of lorry cranes, covering areas such as the set-up and maintenance of cranes, roles and responsibilities of key personnel, and common hazards.

    b. The second set provides guidance on heavy lifting and includes information on equipment selection, operational issues, and inspection and maintenance regimes.

    c. I urge you to adopt both guidelines to plan and conduct safer lifting operations. 

  15. In addition, the WSH Council and Singapore Institution of Safety Officers will launch a pilot run of a new Safe Lifting Clinic this July.

    a. 20 WSH Officers will undergo a two-day course on lorry crane operations conducted by THT Academy and Wong Fong Academy.

    b. This will allow them to upskill and provide valuable safety advice to SMEs who own or use lorry cranes. 

  16. Last year, I shared about the formation of an industry-led Workgroup on Lifting Supervisors comprising stakeholders from the industry, regulators and the training providers.

    a. Their aim is to explore ways to develop Lifting Supervisors’ capabilities in managing technological changes at work.

    b. You will be able to hear some of the Workgroup’s proposed recommendations to the existing WSQ Supervise Safe Lifting Operations Course later.
      
    Promoting workers’ health

  17. Third, companies must promote workers’ health so that they can manage and conduct safer crane operations.

    a. Such cranes are often massive in size and can be as tall as the height of the buildings being constructed.

    b. Last year, we had a case where a crane operator was found unconscious in his cabin by his colleagues.

    c. Fortunately, the crane was not in operation or the outcome could have been disastrous. 
  18. The WSH Council launched the Total WSH assistance programme last year to help companies look at WSH holistically through a three-phase approach of:

    a. Identifying significant risks and gaps in WSH management and status of workers’ health;

    b. Putting in place appropriate interventions to address the risks; and

    c. Monitoring and evaluating the interventions’ effectiveness.

    d. Beyond safety, it is important for companies to take care of workers’ health. If you would like to know more about Total WSH, please approach my WSH Council colleagues. 

    Conclusion

  19. In closing, I urge you to continue with your efforts to promote safer and healthier workplaces among the crane industry.

    a. Together with the Taskforce, we can collectively raise the standards of crane safety to even greater heights in the next decade.

    b. As we usher in 2020, I wish you a wonderful and safe year ahead with success and great health. Have a fruitful Symposium ahead. Thank you.

FOOTNOTE

  1. Dangerous Occurrences are incidents with a high potential for multiple fatalities.