Opening Remarks by Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower at the Workplace Safety and Health Awards 2022
My ministry colleague, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower,
Mr John Ng, Chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council,
Members of the WSH Council and WSH Council Committees,
Tripartite partners, Award recipients,
Industry partners and supporters,
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to join you on this special occasion. It is great seeing so many of you here today. My heartiest congratulations to all our Award recipients, and I thank you for showing exemplary commitment to workplace safety and health.
2. The first seven months this year have been particularly hard on us. We saw the highest number of fatalities for the same period since 2016. It is most regrettable as preliminary investigations found that many of these fatalities could have easily been prevented with the right workplace safety and health control measures
3. We are stepping up on enforcement efforts and tightening regulations to penalise errant companies with poor WSH performance. In addition, the Ministry of Manpower seeks to increase awareness and access to whistleblowing channels, to better enable workers to report workplace safety and health infringements. Both employers and workers need to do your part so that we can arrest the spate of accidents together.
WSH Ownership is Key
4. As Award recipients, you represent the cream of the crop, and chart the way for best WSH practices in other companies. We look to you to uphold your WSH standards. Many of you also took on the responsibility of holding your contractors or suppliers in the value chain to the same high standards. One such company is Keppel Land, which won our WSH Developer Award.
The company introduced a dedicated system to comprehensively assess contractors’ WSH performance before awarding tenders. Assessment tools, such as the Pre-Qualification of Building Works Checklist and Safety Pre-Qualification Evaluation Checklist, were developed to evaluate potential main contractors in WSH Performance.This influences contractors to strive for better WSH standards if they want to win contracts from Keppel Land.
During projects, Keppel Land also conducts monthly safety inspections on contractors and puts in place safety incentives and sanctions to encourage their contractors to keep their workers safe and healthy. These include the payment of safety bonuses should contractors show exemplary safety conduct, or the withholding of progress payments should contractors not fare well in the safety assessments.
Enhancing WSH through Technology
5.As Singapore progresses towards becoming a Smart Nation, we are also seeing more companies harnessing technology to make work processes safer. PSA Corporation Limited, a winner of this year’s WSH Innovation Awards, is one example of a company that has invested in tech-enabled WSH.
PSA employs the use of laser scanning technology and video analytics, enabled by a network of optical cameras, on their automated rail mounted gantry cranes to optimise automated operations and increase terminal efficiency.
This minimises the need for manual intervention by remote crane operators and has helped PSA reduce the occurrence of human errors by 30%, lowering the risks of accidents.
Their video analytics technology also comes with the ability to detect safety anomalies and picks up potential safety breaches during container operation in the yard.The job would then be instantly halted and handed over to a remote crane operator to manually intervene.
All data captured is actively analysed via a user- friendly visualisation dashboard to generate valuable insights for PSA to act upon, enabling better decision making such as identifying errant drivers who are not following Safe Work Procedures and sending them for retraining before any accident happens.
Towards Holistic Workplace Health
6. Apart from preventing physical accidents in the workplace, I also call on employers to pay attention on workplace mental well-being. Workplace health and safety must go hand in hand. The Animal & Avian Veterinary Clinic (AAVC) is amongst the recipients of the inaugural CARE Awards, or the Culture of Acceptance, Respect and Empathy Award.
Dr Kenneth Tong, Founder and CEO of AAVC, shared that his staff sometimes perform tasks that require them to put aside their own emotions so that they can focus on the task at hand and cater to their clients’ needs. I imagine that most, if not all of them, become veterinary professionals because they love animals and their emotional investment in pets’ health and wellbeing can take a toll on their mental health. Dr Tong recalls that some of his colleagues required time-outs, counselling, and medical treatment.
Mental well-being issues at AAVC are treated seriously, without prejudice or judgement. AAVC assures its staff who are struggling that their employment status, progression or salary will not be affected, so long as they remain committed to the job. Support groups are made available to employees, and they also enjoy medical benefits for treatment related to mental well-being.
AAVC’s efforts have reaped tangible results. The company saw a 90% improvement in productivity and a 95% reduction in their employee attrition rate. For the past five years, no one has left its employment. Their employees had higher morale, better health, and increased productivity, enabling them to perform better at work. This also translates to higher revenue, a portion of which are then shared back with the employees.
7. Congratulations once to Keppel Land, PSA and the Animal & Avian Veterinary Clinic. As we recognise and celebrate these companies and all other Award recipients today, I trust that you will keep your WSH spirit strong and inspire your colleagues, workers, contractors, clients, partners and one another to achieve the same. Together, we need to get back on track in achieving high WSH standards so that our workers can go home safe and healthy.
8. Thank you, and I hope you will enjoy the rest of the ceremony.