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According to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Singapore has embarked on the journey towards workplace safety and health (WSH) excellence more than a decade ago. In its latest WSH 2018 Plus, the strategy introduced a new thrust on building a progressive and pervasive WSH culture. In fact, MOM encouraged stakeholders to “view WSH as a personal responsibility and proactively take preventive actions to reduce risks.”
With the new year ahead, WSH 2018 Plus sets out the plan to bring Singapore back on track to achieve the 2018 target while laying the foundation to address emerging WSH challenges and sustain continuous improvement beyond 2018.
The WSH 2018 Plus plan has three key priorities:
- Improving WSH performance in construction industry
- Strengthening WSH competency
- Building collective WSH ownership
Improving WSH performance in construction industry
As part as its effort to instil greater ownership and motivation for firms to improve their performance, MOM plans to enact progressive WSH legislation. In fact, it will continue to adopt an outcome-based approach that’s grounded on principles of risk management in reviewing/enacting WSH legislation.
Additionally, MOM will see a differentiated regulatory approach that’s based on the level of capability and attitude of companies. It said: “This recognises that not all construction companies are non-compliant. There are exemplary construction companies which modelled the way worksites should be managed to improve safety and health for their workers.”
“But there are companies which either lacked the know-how or a safety mindset,” it added.
On that note, companies with high capability and good attitude towards WSH are role models for the industry. For this, MOM will adopt a self-regulated approach. On the other hand, companies with low capability but good attitude towards WSH will require assistance to improve. An engagement-centric approach will be adopted for such companies. Meanwhile, companies with low/high capability but poor attitude towards WSH will bear the brunt of its full regulatory levers.
Other than that, MOM also plans to influence WSH standards through procurement practices, and leverage on technology to improve the WSH performance in the industry.
Strengthening WSH competency
In order to strengthen the WSH competency, MOM will work with the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (SISO) to develop a career progression pathway for WSH officers. It commented: “With deeper mastery of skills, they will be more valued by employers, allowing them to drive WSH improvements more effectively on the ground.”
Not only that, MOM will work with training providers to introduce blended learning via interactive and experiential modules. According to the release, this will allow trainees to internalise the knowledge gained and provide them with greater flexibility on the pace of learning. In fact, MOM has also moved towards a competency-based and outcome-oriented training curriculum. It has started to introduce more hands-on components in the training curriculum of workers, supervisors and managers.
MOM also plans to enhance the quality of training providers and trainers. For example, it recently introduced the Train The Trainers programme that requires trainers to undergo at least 10 training hours each year.
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Building collective WSH ownership
To build a progressive WSH culture, MOM believes that employers need the following shifts in mindset:
- From reducing workplace fatalities to preventing all work-related injuries and ill-health
With its Vision Zero movement, MOM will work closely with industry leaders to champion the Vision Zero movement over the next few years by sharing the moral and business case for adopting the mindset.
- From injury compensation to injury prevention and management
For that, MOM has reviewed the Work Injury Compensation (WIC) insurance and will work with industry stakeholders to develop a National Return to Work (RTW) framework to help injured workers return to work. It commented: “Efforts will focus on raising awareness, building capabilities and infrastructure to facilitate and coordinate the RTW process.”
- From focusing only on safety to equal emphasis on safety and health
With equal emphasis needed to be placed on preventing and addressing work-related ill-health alongside improving work safety, MOM will leverage on existing platforms such as the WSH Campaign, WSH Conference, industry talks, and more, to extend its outreach.It will also be accrediting training providers for total WSH Courses, while reviewing existing professional training frameworks to incorporate the total WSH concept. On a company-level, MOM plans to develop an e-tool for firms to perform online assessment to measure their readiness for total WSH and to identify their gaps.
- From government-led to industry-driven
To better facilitate industry leadership and ownership, MOM will review the WSH Council’s current operating model to broaden and deepen its tripartite partnership, as well as to better address the fundamental interest of improving employees’ well-being at work.It remarked: “We will also review the work injury compensation insurance framework and administration processes to better reflect the true cost of workplace accidents.”
This will provide an impetus for the industry to take greater ownership in WSH and prevent workplace accidents.
In conclusion, MOM commented: “WSH 2018 Plus sets out the plan to bring the nation’s performance back on track, and advance its WSH performance towards the 2018 target and beyond.”
Lead Photo / 123RF
Tables/ Ministry of Manpower