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3 big changes Singapore wants to make in workplace safety and health



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Speaking at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference (WSH) 2018, Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower, talked about the island nation’s progress in WSH excellence – pointing out three big changes that are necessary, including the employer’s role in these.

“The Ministry convened a Tripartite Strategy Committee earlier this year to develop the WSH2028 Strategy, a comprehensive 10-year plan to bring Singapore towards WSH excellence,” she said.

#1: Transparency on companies’ WSH performance

Some companies are still adopting a compliance mind-set, choosing to do the bare minimum for safety; or worse, meeting WSH requirements only “for show” during MOM inspections, Minister Teo said.

To ensure WSH is not “nice to have” but “must have”, the Committee has proposed increasing the transparency of the WSH performance of companies. “The objective is not so much to penalise the laggards but to encourage those who do well to keep up their efforts,” she added.

#2 Upskill existing WSH professional through bridging courses

The second focus is on transforming how workplaces manage the health of their workers, specifically the dimension of how the health condition of a worker can impact safety and productivity at work.

After the announcement of the Total WSH approach earlier this year, the Committee has recommended to upskill existing WSH professionals to manage the interactions between work, safety and health.

“Today, these professionals are either experts in safety or health. We need to break these silos, and introduce bridging courses that will train WSH officers and occupational health professionals to integrate and manage both safety and health risks,” Minister Teo affirmed.

#3 Using technology to advance WSH outcomes

The third transformation involves technology, such as data analytics, sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and automation, to achieve breakthroughs in Singapore’s WSH journey.

“With the help of sensors and IoT, we can augment our industries’ capabilities to monitor WSH situation on the ground on a real time basis 24/7. With the help of data analytics, employers can predict if a machine is going to break down and take pre-emptive actions for the benefit of businesses and workers,” Minister Teo explained.

She added: “Virtual reality opens up the possibility of immersive training experiences where workers are confronted with WSH risks in simulated worksites. Workers will have a better sense of the real challenges they will encounter.”

Further, she talked about how traditional classroom training can evolve into one where bite-sized learning can take place beyond the physical classroom. “Such ‘micro-learning’ is not only convenient for adult learners, but is also particularly useful in developing good WSH habits through periodic reminders and learning.”

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