Workplace health & safety

From ergonomic assessment for WFH staff to praising good practices on-site, here are the steps employers are taking to create safe and healthy workplaces.

Singapore's Tripartite Alliance Limited (TAL) today released its Annual Report for the 2020/2021 Financial Year (1 Apr 2020 to 31 Mar 2021), highlighting case studies of exemplary employers who've managed their workforce strongly despite the challenging COVID-19 pandemic period.

We've adapted excerpts from the report to showcase for you some of the exciting work being done in the workplace safety & health (WSH) space in the nation.

Case study 1: Amgen Singapore Manufacturing

As one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies, creating a safe and healthy workplace its staff has always been a priority for Amgen Singapore Manufacturing.

With the longer horizon of working from home in this ‘new normal’, Amgen extended its ‘Actively Caring’ safety culture beyond onsite employees to include those who were working from home (WFH). They implemented an interactive ergonomics learning and risk assessment programme, which was complemented with a WFH support programme.

Staff identified with ergonomic risks were personally connected to a safety officer for a thorough ergonomics assessment to better address their needs.

Upon assessment, ergonomics equipment, peripherals, and furnishings such as monitors, chairs, and hands-free headsets were delivered and installed at their homes. Almost all of employees working from home have benefited from this programme.

Cognisant of the emotional and mental wellbeing of their regular workforce, including contingent workers, Amgen also curated a series of care packs for staff and their families. From the initial packs that contained essential hygiene and healthy food items to thematic packs comprising a variety of festive treats, card games, and wellbeing items such as essential oils, these care packs were well received by employees.

To alleviate the burden on employees who are working parents or caregivers supporting ageing parents, various virtual activities, such as storytelling and fitness workouts, were conducted to cater to different age groups. There were also virtual lunch and learn sessions, with local medical practitioners or Amgen subject matter experts, for employees and their families to learn and ask topical questions related to COVID-19.

Case study 2: Asiabuild Construction

Asiabuild Construction believes that for a business to be truly sustainable, adequate resources and time must be spent to ensure that WSH is not being compromised at the expense of higher profitability.

The company regularly keeps every individual updated and motivated in the area of safety.

For instance, good practices on-site are often praised while improvements are regularly made to others. Safety is also included as part of key performance indicators in staff’s performance appraisals.

Technology is continuously integrated into the company's construction process, which includes building a SMART worksite that will create a digital lifestyle in construction and enhance the safety, health and wellbeing of the workforce.

Some technological processes or innovations which have been implemented include its Mobile Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) System, as well as a Building Information Modelling (BIM) safety system to enable site utilisation, construction sequencing planning, crane capacity study, and fall prevention development process.

Case study 3: Hyundai Engineering & Construction

Hyundai Engineering and Construction recognised the existing risks its workers faced when constructing the wharf line of Tuas Terminal Phase 2, with prefabricated concrete caisson units sunk down to the seabed. Not only were the workers exposed to the risk of working at height, but also other hazards such as exposure to toxic fumes and stress injuries.

To eliminate the risks associated with the overall process, the team designed and fabricated an unmanned sprayer for use on internal and external concrete walls.Silane Apache is used for internal walls and consists of four pressure rotating sprayers lowered by chain hoists, whereas Silane Alpinist, a 14m-long spreader raised and lowered by a tower crane, is used for external walls.

Both devices have resulted in increased productivity through automation, improved health of workers by removing the exposure to toxic fumes, and eliminated the risk of working at height.

“Project Silane Apache and Silane Alpinist (SASA) has managed to reduce the work time of our project by more than 50% and achieved S$2.5mn in cost savings without compromising on the quality of work,” says Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd’s Project Manager, Lee Phill Young.

Case study 4: ARLANXEO Singapore

Safety is deeply ingrained as a core value and a top priority at ARLANXEO.

The company constantly engaging its employees and stakeholders on safety matters through various initiatives, such as safety dialogues, hazard recognition, toolbox talks, and Last- Minute Risk Assessments (LMRA).

These platforms help employees and contractors perform their work in a safe manner and provide the necessary triggers for them to take a step back, either individually or as a group, and do a final assessment of the risks faced at the immediate work area prior to commencing their tasks.

For higher-risk activities, the company adopts a detailed assessment methodology known as the Health, Safety, Security, and Environment (HSSE) Pre Plan, where work executioners, interface and support teams collectively discuss ways to reduce risk to the lowest level possible by using control measures and tools available to them.

Regular meet-ups are organised with business partners, vendors, and contractors to discuss and drive ARLANXEO Singapore’s Goal Zero plan, which aims to achieve zero accidents at the workplace.

Focusing on employees’ health and wellbeing remains a priority for ARLANXEO Singapore, which is why activities such as virtual health talks, fruits distribution, and online work-out sessions were organised to pave the way for improved employee wellbeing and productivity. 

TAL comprises three distinct business units – the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management (TADM), the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council. 

In addition to these case studies, TAL's annual report shared the following key results:

  1. TADM recovered S$13mn of salary arrears and compensation for wrongful dismissal received by employees. More than 90% of employees fully recovered their salary arrears.
  2. TADM assisted about 18,000 customers through mediation and advisory services.
  3. TADM also enhanced the Short-Term Relief Fund which provides financial help to lower-wage workers whose employers are unable to pay their wages. With the enhancement, the coverage has been extended from 20% to half of the workforce, and the quantum of support has increased from S$1,000 to up to two months’ salary, capped at S$4,600, depending on the worker’s income.
  4. TAFEP saw over 10,000 companies adopting at least one Tripartite Standard, benefitting more than one million employees. In particular, more employers adopted the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) following the announcement of the Enhanced Work-Life Grant to sustain the use of FWAs during and beyond the pandemic.
  5. In FY 2020/2021, TAFEP assisted more employees and jobseekers who sought assistance or advice on employment matters, and managed twice the number of complaints, enquiries, and feedback compared to FY 19/20.
  6. WSH Council saw close to 38,000 companies joining BizSAFE, a nationally-recognised capability building programme designed to help companies build workplace safety and health capabilities.
  7. WSH Council also recognised 190 companies and individuals for achieving excellence in workplace safety and health in the WSH Awards on 9 Nov 2020.

Stephen Lee, TAL Chairman, commented: "The pandemic has brought about many changes to the way we work. We had to find new ways to reach employers and employees and ensure our services remained uninterrupted. With a motivated team and the support of our partners, I am confident that TAL will overcome the challenges of today to help Singapore build the workforce of tomorrow."

Lead image / 123RF

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