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Opening Address by Mr Zaqy Mohamad,Senior Minister of State for Manpower at the Launch of WSH Guidelines for the Private Security Industry and Centre for Future of Security

Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, President, Security Association Singapore,

Mr Steve Tan, Executive Secretary, Union of Security Employees

Industry partners, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon! It is my pleasure to join you at the launch of the Centre for Future of Security, as well as the Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines for the Private Security Industry.

Launch of the Centre for the Future of Security (CFS)

2. Private security officers play a vital role in making Singapore a safer place for all of us. I am therefore heartened to learn that the industry is taking its advancement in its own hands by launching the Centre for Future of Security.
• The Centre aims to be an industry think-tank on matters of interest to the security industry
• It will stimulate research and debate to enhance the awareness of industry-specific issues
• It will also aid in the search for solutions to challenges faced by the industry.

3. I understand that the Centre will be conducting a range of programmes, including conferences, forums, and panel discussions.
• For a start, the Centre will focus on key issues like security technologies, job redesign, and workplace safety and health (WSH), an area I am passionate about.

Common WSH issues faced by private security officers

4. Private security officers perform a wide range of duties in the course of their work. They provide access control, patrol premises, and even act as bodyguards.

5. However, they are often exposed to various occupational hazards, which may lead to workplace accidents.
• This includes Slips, Trips and Falls (STFs), being struck by moving vehicles, as well as physical or mental fatigue.

6. The Centre’s panel discussion today was supposed to focus on a very important topic of “WSH in Security: What Business of Ours is it?”.
• It is unfortunate that the session had to be postponed due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
• Nevertheless, it is an important topic and I would still like to share a few words on why we need to pay attention to this issue.

7. There are around 200 accidents every year in the private security and investigations industry – this means that once every two days, there will be a private security officer getting injured at work. In particular, STFs, which are the top contributors of these injuries, saw an increase from around 40% in 2018 to close to 60% in 2020. If we could tackle STFs more effectively, I am hopeful that the industry would benefit from declining injuries rates. 
• The WSH Council recently launched its Slips, Trips and Falls Campaign for sectors where STF incidents are prevalent, including the private security industry. The Campaign aims to promote employers and employees working together to co-create safer workplaces, by taking simple safety actions to prevent STFs, such as:
(1) Wear non-slip footwear
(2) Report damaged or uneven flooring
(3) Use & look out for warning signages
• These are very simple solutions. We want to protect our workers, some of whom are a bit older, and others who need support because they may underestimate when they are physically or mentally fatigued and get injured.  These are injuries that are avoidable, and may result in a lot of down time for workers. 
• Employers should also ensure that supervisors walk the ground periodically to assess STF risks that might occur in varying conditions, such as wet weather, and put in place measures to mitigate the occurrence of STFs.

8. Another common work injury faced by private security officers is being struck by moving vehicles. Such injuries can be very serious and may even result in loss of life.
• To prevent such accidents, protective barriers need to be installed, and pathway demarcations put in place.
• Private security officers should also wear reflective vests with whistles, so that they can be easily spotted or heard by drivers.

9. In addition, it is not uncommon for private security officers to stand or patrol for long periods of time. This could lead to physical and mental fatigue, and thus a higher risk of accidents. 
• As such, employers need to make sure that private security officers get sufficient rest during shifts, and do not work more than the permitted number of hours each day.
• MOM has been stepping up inspection and enforcement efforts to safeguard the rights of our private security officers, and ensure their safety.

10. Last, but not least, our private security officers are usually our first line of defence when it comes to ensuring our safety. This makes them susceptible to verbal abuse or acts of aggression from members of the public. This affects not just their physical health, but in the long run, can take a toll on their mental well-being.
• Private security officers should be well-trained and equipped to handle such incidents. This includes the use of body cameras during their shifts. It protects both the officer and the company, especially with video recordings that can be used to take action.
• Employers should also ensure officers have a line of support they can reach out to for any issues they might be facing.

11. Today, we are launching the new WSH Guidelines for the Private Security Industry – an important development for the industry.
• This is a ground-up initiative by the industry to foster a culture of accident prevention at the workplace;
• Sets out a framework for risk assessment and management
• Helps stakeholders understand their obligations in providing a safe working environment for our private security officers.

12. I strongly encourage all of you here to support these efforts by adopting the guidelines and playing your part in reducing workplace accidents.
• Everyone has a role in ensuring workplace safety and health - from top management, down to the individual workers.

Conclusion

13. Our private security officers work hard to keep us and our loved ones safe, and we should do our utmost to ensure their health and safety.
• The launch of the CFS as well as the new WSH Guidelines for the Private Security Industry aim to raise workplace safety and health standards for our private security officers.

14. I wish you the very best in your journey to shape a better future for the security industry.

15.  With the rising cases, I hope everyone here continues to keep safe and maintain level of preparedness for us to overcome the pandemic.

16. Stay safe and healthy!

17. Thank you.