New measures announced ahead of Heightened Safety Period's conclusion
Singapore has unveiled a new set of workplace safety and health (WSH) measures ahead of the Heightened Safety Period's (HSP) conclusion at the end of the month.
Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said this week that while the HSP was successful in lowering workplace fatalities, it cannot be extended indefinitely.
"It relies primarily on tougher enforcements and penalties, and is not a sustainable approach," he said. "However, it is imperative that we continue to sustain the momentum to further strengthen WSH at all levels."
'SAFE' measures introduced
In implementing a new sustainable approach, the government said it will retain the Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce (MAST), which will implement Safety Accountability, Focus, and Empowerment (SAFE) measures to improve WSH outcomes.
"MAST will retain some HSP measures and introduce new measures to strengthen WSH ownership fundamentally and sustainably at the sectoral, company, and worker level," Mohamad said during his address at the National Workplace Safety and Health Campaign Launch 2023.
At the sectoral level, the SAFE measures include:
- Introduce more stringent safety requirements, and new measures in Government Procurement Entities' tenders to incentivise good safety performance
- Expand Demerit Point System to Manufacturing Sector (October 2023)
- Expand the MAST membership (By end of 2023)
- Require Video Surveillance System for construction sites with project value ≥ $5mil (June 2024)
- Ensure safe use of machineries and combustible dust (June 2024)
At the company level, the new SAFE measures include:
- Require chief executives (CEs) or board directors of all companies in higher-risk industries to attend the Top Executive WSH Programme (starting March 2024)
- Ramp up Enhanced Workplace Health Surveillance programme for noise (May 2023)
- Provide more support to SMEs through SME Centres (June 2023)
At the worker level, SAFE measures will include:
- Launch annual National WSH Campaign to enhance safety reporting (May 2023)
- Introduce online micro-learning component to Safety Orientation Course recertification assessment (January 2024)
In a media release, the government said it will retain measures that make CEs personally account for serious WSH lapses following fatal workplace incidents. CEs will also remain required to attend in-person Top Executive WSH Programme, for companies with serious WSH lapses following serious or fatal incidents.
Firms with major injuries and Stop Work Orders will also remain required to review WSH processes through an external editor, according to MOM. The HSP measure that doubles the quantum for Composition Fine from a minimum of $1,000 to $2,000 per WSH lapse will also be retained.
HSP's 'uneven' impact
The new SAFE measures come ahead of the conclusion of the HSP by the end of the month.
At its end, the government said it lowered the workplace fatality rate per 100,000 workers to 0.8. surpassing MOM's WSH 2028 target of 1.0.
"If we can maintain this level of performance on a sustained basis, we will have Singapore just among five countries in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) with similar WSH performance outcomes. This is one positive outcome of the HSP which we can be assured of that the HSP has done its job," Mohamad said.
The major injury rate, however, worsened to 19.2 per 100,000 workers during the HSP, according to the senior minister of state for manpower.
"Overall, the HSP impact was uneven across sectors. While the construction sector remained the top contributor in terms of absolute number of workplace fatal and major injuries, I am encouraged that it showed the most improvement for the fatality and major injury rates during HSP," Mohamad said.