Minister chides Singapore employers for slacking on safety

Singapore’s manpower minister reminds employers that workplace safety is not a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’

Minister chides Singapore employers for slacking on safety

Singapore’s Manpower Minister Josephine Teo chided employers for their lax attitude towards workplace safety and health (WSH). She urged companies to go beyond compliance and adopt progressive and proactive practices.

“Some companies are still adopting a compliance mindset, choosing to do the bare minimum for safety,” she said. “Or worse, meeting WSH requirements only ‘for show’ during Ministry of Manpower inspections.”

“Apart from the impact on human lives which should never be compromised, a lax approach to WSH is also commercially short-sighted, as unsafe work practices often lead to higher rectification costs, lower productivity and poor staff morale.”

Teo added that companies need to recognise that workplace safety is not a “nice to have” but a “must have”.

Speaking at the biennial Singapore WSH conference earlier this week, the minister shared three key strategies to improve workplace safety and health:

- Increase employer ownership of workplace ownership and health

- Renew focus on workplace health

- Drive adoption of tech such as data analytics to enhance employee safety and health

MOM convened a Tripartite committee earlier this year to develop a 10-year plan – WSH2028 strategy – to discuss solutions to reduce workplace fatality rate to less than 1 per 100,000 workers by 2028. The rate is currently at 1.2.

The committee proposed several solutions, including the increased transparency of the state of safety and health at companies. Teo said the objective of open records is not to “penalise the laggards” but to encourage those who maintain high standards to continue their efforts.

Also, instead of looking at the “traditional” view of how work impacts employee health, employers can address how the existing health condition of a worker can impact safety and productivity at work.

Employers would also “do well to engage the workers” and equip everyone in the organisation with the knowledge to promote safety and health, instead of simply relying on a few experts on the team.

Lastly, Teo said that employers can benefit from tapping into technology to monitor the situation on the ground on a real-time basis. This will allow companies to take pre-emptive actions for the benefit of its workers.

MOM has also been using a different approach to regulate companies on safety standards. Instead of doing extensive inspections, MOM has been informing companies with poor safety records of their performance compared with their peers.

“It has introduced a new dimension to our inspections. i.e. it’s not just to uncover lapses, but to motivate improvement,” she said.

“The message is that laggards must catch up and even those who are good can be better. Therefore, we will scale up this new approach to foster a stronger culture of continuous improvement in WSH performance.”



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