Despite bringing down the workplace fatal injury rate to 1.8 per 100,000 employees in 2014, a target set for 2018, Singapore’s Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin, has said that it is not good enough and plans are underway to bring it down to zero.
“It is good effort but it is not good enough. We must, especially in the realm of workplace safety and health, endeavour desperately, earnestly, constantly everyday to ensure that nobody gets killed or injured,” he said in a speech yesterday.
One of the key challenges in achieving workplace safety and health (WSH) targets was reaching out to SMEs, and “helping them build capabilities to ensure that their workers are safe.”
He pointed out that 63% of them have insufficient expertise in the field, while more than half (59%) feel such measures are costly to implement.
As a result, his Ministry is looking to focus on relevant initiatives, one of which is to encourage them to not only implement risk management, but also to communicate it to employees.
“Remember, what they don’t know, can hurt them. Which is why these risk management measures should not only be done, they should be communicated and internalised.”
In addition, it aims to eliminate workplace hazards by re-engineering workplace processes, and moving to a “practical and safe workflow.”
He also emphasised on companies taking into account all factors that contribute to injury and ill health, including individual health conditions and how they affect work factors.
“This is one area that I would like us to take a step further and look at the health of our fellow workers. Would you, for example, let a sick crane operator who is sick and who is taking perhaps drowsy medication operate a crane?”
He also brought to attention the need for company bosses to take the lead in improving safety and health in the workplace.
“Ultimately, taking action to improve safety and health in the workplace starts with the individuals at the very top – the towkays and the bosses, do you believe that it is important? You cannot merely go through the motions, because your people will know it.”
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