More than 900 firms pledge to Singapore's Safe Hands Campaign

The initiative promotes workplace safety to prevent accidents, especially amputations

More than 900 firms pledge to Singapore's Safe Hands Campaign

The number of companies that have committed to the Safe Hands Campaign have grown to over 900 this year, according to Singaporean Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad.

"I applaud all companies that have made the Safe Hands pledge. I'm heartened to learn that we have more than 900 pledges this year. That's three times the 300 pledges we received in 2018!" said Mohamad in a speech launching the annual initiative.

The campaign aims to raise awareness on how to prevent hand and finger injuries in the workplace, and this year it wants to zoom in on the food manufacturing industry.

According to the minister, the sub-sector accounted for the second-highest incidents of amputation injuries, with nine reported in the last year.

"Food Manufacturing is a growing sector. Manufacturers like you introduce Singapore's brand of quality and safe food products to the world, and we should also add the dimension that they are produced safely," said the official. "Therefore, I encourage the sector to strive for zero amputations and injuries. It is not only the right thing to do, it is also befitting to the brand name of Singapore."

What can employers do?

Mohamad said that companies play a "key role" in preventing workplace injuries, especially amputations, which often happen for two reasons.

"One, absent or improper guarding which exposes workers' hands to moving parts of the machine," he said. "For this, companies and supervisors play a key preventive role to ensure that machine guarding is properly maintained and not dismantled for convenience's sake."

The second one, he said, involves workers undertaking risky or unsafe, particularly when they react by instinct to pick up some that has been dropped or to clear some chokes on machines.

"Such injuries are preventable. Workers not only need to be trained to operate the machine safely, but they also need to be trained on how to react safely to unexpected situations," he said.

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To prevent amputations, Mohamad suggested incorporating technology into work operations, including the installation or sensors that stops machines when they detect opened safety doors or removed safety guards.

"Where possible, we could also automate processes to minimise the risk of human intervention and subsequently, potential injuries. They both go hand in hand," he advised.

On top of that, the minister also suggested creating a "ripple effect" of behaviours by intervening when an unsafe behaviour is observed.

"We should actively intervene so that we can create a broader company culture that takes Workplace Safety and Health seriously," he added.

He also encouraged businesses to watch the newly launched Behavioural Observation and Intervention video, where employers could pick up tips from companies that promote safe and healthy work behaviours.

The total number of amputations has dropped in 2021, where there were only 41 from the 59 in 2019. According to Mohamad, while this is encouraging, employers should do their part in preventing such incidents.

"While we are happy with the reduction, let's not forget that the impact of hand injuries is devastating, permanent and leads to disruptions, like to the 41 injured persons’ way of life.  Therefore, we can and must do our utmost to prevent such accidents."

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation, in partnership with the Workplace Safety and Health Council, have been organising the campaign since 2020. 

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