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Opening Address at bizSAFE Convention 2022

SMS Zaqy, MAX Atria at Singapore Expo

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.

Good morning and a warm welcome to everyone. I am glad to meet members of the bizSAFE community today.

2 We started the “heightened safety” period about 3 months ago, at a time when the spate of fatalities became untenable following years of progress to build a strong WSH culture here in Singapore. 

The “heightened safety” period has given us the opportunity to keep employers and workers on their toes, be on the guard and in the process, hopefully improve their WSH practices. 
On one hand, the Government has taken action against employers who continued to ignore safety lapses at their workplace. 
On the other hand, we are supporting those who are keen to shore up their safety standards. 
There seems to be some improvement, with the average number of fatal accidents shrinking from 4.5 per month this year up to end August, to 2 per month in September to November. 
This translates to a drop in the fatality rate from 1.6 per 100,000 workers before September. Post-Sep 1, brings us to a rate of below 1 per 100,000 workers – which is actually our WSH 2028 target. 

3 This shows that when the industry wants to, when we put our minds and resources into WSH, we can improve our safety performance to where we expect to be. 

We have made some progress, but we cannot let our guard down.
We must stay vigilant, especially important during this period as we get closer to the festive season.  
Companies may face pressure to meet deadlines and rush to complete work.  
We must not let deadlines lead to dead workers. 
Even beyond the current “heightened safety” period, workplace safety and health must not be compromised. 

4 It’s still early days. We are at the mid-point of our “Heightened safety” period.

So, let us study the impact of our measures and the outcomes that we see during these 6 months
and consider how best to shape WSH outcomes and workplace mindsets beyond this period.

5 Today, we celebrate the companies and individuals that have been excellent in risk management,

and what bisSAFE stands for in helping companies build capabilities, putting in place good practices and risk assessments, 
and thinking through the hierarchy of controls and good implementation of control measures. 

WSH Mindset Starts from the Top

6 An important trait found in our bizSAFE award winners is WSH ownership at the top.
In these companies, senior management walked the talk, and were deeply involved in setting up the right structures and dedicating resources to provide safer workplaces and worksites. 
I hope that we continue to take more care, and work towards safe outcomes on a consistent basis.  

7 We can all agree that inculcating WSH mindset starts from the top.

To drive home the responsibilities and accountability of company leaders, which include CEOs and Board of Directors, 
we launched the Approved Code of Practice – A C O P in short – for Company Executives’ and Board of Directors’ WSH Duties, to make clear what they should be responsible and accountable for.
This is a major step for the WSH movement here in Singapore, but one that is essential for the long-term

8 To help more management teams better understand the ACOP, I am happy to share that the bizSAFE Level 1 course for top management will be enhanced to incorporate ACOP training. 

This is expected to ready in Q1 2023.  
We will also develop a new training video for all companies to learn about the ACOP, which will be released soon.

9 Tapping on the ACOP to level up your company’s WSH management system, can better position your company to seize business opportunities by clients that demand high WSH standards.  

The European Union (EU) is moving in this direction. 
At today’s Convention, Mr Prateek Jain from EuroCham will share how the EU will be requiring suppliers to EU companies, including those from countries outside the EU like Singapore, to be environmentally and socially responsible. 
This includes the need to look after workers’ safety and health.  

Strengthening WSH Governance 

10 Next, it is important to also strengthen WSH governance on the ground within companies. 

WSH Officers and WSH Coordinators play a crucial role in bridging WSH directives from the management to workers
They also see to the implementation and compliance of WSH in the firm
WSH Officers are currently required to attend training as part of their Continuing Professional Development programme, so that their WSH skills and knowledge are kept up to date. 
But we have a limited pool of WSH Officers today.
Not all worksites have the benefit of having them. 
WSH Coordinators are more widespread, but they do not have the same requirement of continuous training as WSH Officers do.  

11 MOM will level up the capability of WSH Coordinators by requiring companies to send all their WSH Coordinators to undergo refresher training once every two years. 

To make it convenient for companies, most of the training comprises an e-learning package that can be done anywhere anytime, followed by a one-day in-person training session. 
We will phase in the training requirement gradually: 

a. Come 1 January 2023, all Coordinators in the construction sector who were trained before 31 Dec 2017 will have to complete their refresher training by 30 June 2023. 
b. All other Coordinators in the construction sector who underwent training between 2018 up to 2021 will need to complete their refresher training in the second half of 2023.  
c. After the WSH Coordinators in the construction sector complete the refresher training, the requirement will then be extended to WSH Coordinators in other industry sectors. 
12 The Ministry of Manpower will notify the affected companies on the training requirements by the end of this year.

Making Every Worker an Advocate 

13 Next, we need to make every worker an advocate. 

Being on-the-ground, workers are the most appropriate persons to be looking out for unsafe conditions.  
They can be more pro-active -- call out safety lapses; suggest improvements; make changes. 
To facilitate this, companies need to strengthen our WSH culture and be open to ground feedback and whistleblowing from workers,
and accept near-miss reporting as a must-have, rather than a good to have.

a. An example of an employee that is a strong WSH advocate is Ms Tan Xinyi, a Senior Chemical Engineer from City Energy. 
b. She took the initiative to suggest WSH improvements by initiating the use of explosion-proof tablets to monitor hazards at their plant. 
c. This helped field operators and supervisors to communicate more easily and allowed them to resolve issues more quickly.
d. The photos and videos captured in the reporting process were also converted into learning content so that more could learn from it.
e. Xinyi is one of the five individuals receiving the bizSAFE Champion Award today. My heartiest congratulations to them all!

Driving Technology Adoption 

14 Technology has the potential to be a game-changer for WSH, by empowering top management, WSH professionals, and all employees to deliver improved WSH outcomes.  

In line with the WSH 2028 strategy to promote technology-enabled WSH, MOM plans to increase companies’ adoption of technology to advance WSH outcomes. 
The Ministry is looking into requiring implementation of video surveillance systems at strategic high-risk locations in workplaces. 
This will not only help supervisors better monitor work carried out at these locations, but also facilitate training if any poor work practices are picked up.
Companies can go another step further by implementing AI-enabled CCTVs to enable automatic detection of unsafe work environment or behaviours.

15 Zheng Keng Engineering & Construction Pte Ltd, who bagged three awards today, is one of the companies that have proactively implemented the installation of surveillance cameras to monitor the safety conditions and practices at their workplaces. 

Apart from CCTVs, they have also diligently adopted WSH technology on other fronts:
a. They installed AI cameras and proximity sensors on telescopic handlers and other heavy vehicles to warn drivers of objects and people,
as well as Stability Control Systems for their lorry cranes to prevent toppling of cranes.
b. They also installed a secondary guarding system which includes AI and advance sensing functions on scissor lifts to prevent entrapment incidents. 
It does so by cutting off the movements of the scissor lift when there are unusual movements of the operator.

16 We hope to see more companies like Zheng Keng, that are looking at the use of technology to improve WSH. 

SMEs looking to implement such technology at your workplace will be happy to know that there are government grants available such as the Productivity Solutions Grant. 
To publicise the good outcomes of companies that used WSH technology, we will also introduce a new bizSAFE Tech Awards category next year.  
The winners would be able to demonstrate to their industries that investing in WSH tech is viable and rewarding, and create awareness of the possibilities available. 


17 Today’s winners show us that with an effective risk management system, companies of all sizes can prevent accidents from happening.  

We’ve had a challenging year and I thank all stakeholders from the industry, our tripartite partners, and members of the WSH Council for staying the course and working with MOM on improving our WSH standards. 
Let’s maintain our focus to bring our accidents to zero, and hope that we have an accident-free year-end as we usher in 2023. 
Happy holidays and Happy New Year  to all.
Thank you.