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Opening Remarks by Minister of State (Manpower) Zaqy Mohamad at Virtual Launch of Workplace Safety and Health Campaign 2020

MOS (Manpower) Zaqy Mohamad

  1. Good morning to our tripartite partners, friends and colleagues.

  2. In view of the COVID-19 situation, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, MOM and our tripartite partners, NTUC and SNEF, have decided to hold this year’s National WSH Campaign virtually.

    •  Our campaign goal is the same as our fight against COVID-19 – to take time to take care of our safety and health, so as to protect our workers, our loved ones and ourselves from harm.

  3. Many businesses have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    • This includes the closure of non-essential workplaces during the circuit breaker, and allowing essential workers to work from home wherever possible.

  4. However, the decline in work activities did not lead to fewer accidents.

    •  From 1 January till 17 April this year, we recorded 14 fatalities compared to nine last year.

    • This worrying trend reinforces the need for employers and workers to make WSH a priority and press on with efforts to improve it even during this difficult time. Let me share three ways.

    Focusing on workers’ health, not just safety

  5. First, there is no better time than now to focus on workers’ health.

    • We have witnessed how the formation of a COVID-19 cluster at a workplace can cripple a company’s operations overnight!

    •  This can be a painful and sombre lesson for the employers on how the well-being of their workers can significantly impact their business operations.
  6. Over the past few months, we have all been advised to maintain personal hygiene, wash our hands with soap regularly and practise safe distancing to protect ourselves and others.

  7. To boost our immune systems during this critical period, we also strongly urge employers and workers to maintain healthy lifestyles.

    • Even if you are well, please stay hydrated, have sufficient rest and exercise regularly.

    • Workers with chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension should also pay heed to doctors’ advice on how to manage the illnesses.

  8. Employers can also continue to show care for workers who are working from home by sharing with them the WSH Council’s Campaign CARE Kit, which contains useful health tips and reminders.

  9. The preventive measures that I just shared are what the National WSH Campaign aims to achieve this year – to increase the sustained adoption of Total WSH approach by managing work, safety and health together, even after COVID-19.

    Deepening WSH ownership

  10. Second, deepening WSH ownership, which is premised on a culture of care, trust and prevention.

    • This pandemic highlighted more vividly the need for employers and employees alike to stay united, show mutual care, and trust that each of us will play our part to fight this virus.

  11. In addition, I urge companies to use this lull period to review and improve your WSH systems and processes.

    • With the closure of non-essential workplaces, this is also an opportune time for workers to acquire new WSH skills through training.

    • Tap on the WSH Council’s many training materials and e-learning platforms mentioned by Chairman John in his speech.

    • By doing so, your workers will be better prepared to meet work demands when operations resume at workplaces.

    Leverage technology

  12. Lastly, this pandemic has taught many companies the importance of technology and digitalisation at workplaces.

    • We are already operating in a new norm where technology is necessary for daily business operations.

    • When this crisis is over, companies who embrace technologies will recover faster than those that did not.

    • Hence, I encourage everyone to press on with transformation efforts by exploring and tapping on technologies to improve WSH performance.

  13. While COVID-19 has left a devastating effect on the world, there is still a silver lining.

    • This crisis has catalysed efforts to entrench our three WSH 2028 strategies of Health, Ownership and Technology as part of business operations and sustainability.

  14. Lastly, please take time to take care of your health and stay safe always.

    • Together, we can overcome this challenging period and create safer and healthier workplaces, even while working from home. Thank you, keep well and stay safe.