Opening Address by Mr John Ng, Chairman of the WSH Council at the Bedok Safety Group’s 35th Anniversary
06 Oct 2020
Opening Address by Mr John Ng, Chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health Council at the Bedok Safety Group’s 35th Anniversary on 6 October 2020 at 9.20am
Mr Vincent Lim, Chairman of the Bedok Safety Group,
Mr Silas Sng, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health,
Distinguished viewers, ladies and gentlemen,
1.Good morning, and thank you for inviting me to today’s celebrations. My heartiest congratulations to the Bedok Safety Group (BSG) on your 35th Anniversary. Starting out as a voluntary group of safety professionals from various companies, I am heartened to see how far BSG has come in promoting workplace safety and health. Also, I would like to commend BSG’s unwavering support in ensuring that Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) remains a top priority at the workplace.
WSH in a COVID-19 World
2.We are living in unprecedented times. By now, many companies would have felt the impact that COVID-19 has brought about on their businesses. A recent survey by the Singapore Business Federation
revealed that although many firms believe that they can keep operations going, some expect to downsize or fold completely.
3.Despite the strong headwinds against businesses, I am glad that BSG recognised the importance of WSH in ensuring business sustainability and has been pushing for higher WSH standards. By proactively implementing Safe Management Measures at the workplaces, be it through appointing Safe Management Officers, enforcing safe distancing measures, or implementing split-team working arrangements, you have safeguarded the continuity of business operations which is of utmost priority during such times.
4.This fight against the pandemic is not likely to end soon. We must therefore be resilient and continue to put in our best efforts to improve WSH so that we can all emerge stronger.
5.First, we must take greater ownership of our worker’s safety and health. Over the last five years, Slips, Trips and Falls (STF) remain as one of the leading causes for workplace accidents. According to the recently released 1H2020 National WSH Statistics by the Ministry of Manpower, there has been no reduction in workplace fatalities in the first half of 2020, despite lesser workplace activities. In addition, Slips, Trips and Falls (STF) remain as leading causes for workplace accidents, accounting for 58 major injuries, and 1450 minor injuries in 1H2020. Therefore, I urge you all to take time to take care of your worker’s safety and health, especially during this period when many companies are catching up on production deadlines amid labour crunch. This would mean ensuring that the proper risk assessments are conducted and safe work procedures are established. Before work commences, make sure that there are no wet, slippery or damaged floors. Where applicable, implement control measures such as anti-slip mats or signages to mitigate the risk of STF. These are the steps we should be taking to ensure our workers go back safely to their families at the end of the day.
6.Earlier in May, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation led the launch of the Safe Hands Campaign 2020. As of today, we have 382 companies who have expressed their dedication by pledging their commitment towards creating a safer working environment for workers and I strongly encourage BSG to come onboard as well.
7.As we do our best to keep our workers physically safe and healthy, we should also keep a lookout for our worker’s mental health. Stress comes in many forms. Be it from the challenges of working from home, the anxiety on job security, or for our foreign workers, the longing to return home to see their families. If left unaddressed, these could lead to devastating effects on work performance and potential accidents. Therefore, do reach out to your workers, especially during these uncertain times. Check on how they’re coping and address any issues as far as possible. Be compassionate and patient with one another, as it can go a long way in boosting morale and creating a happier, safer and healthier workforce.
8.Last but not least, the pandemic has made us more receptive towards utilising technology for work. Some of us have never used Zoom or Microsoft Teams to attend webinars like this until recently. While we cannot deny the benefits that technology bring when working from home, it is also extremely useful when it comes to workplace safety and health. The WSH Council has been strongly encouraging technology-enabled WSH as part of its WSH 2028 vision. Hence, I am glad to hear that this webinar will feature topics such as ‘Technologies for Enhancing Safety’ and ‘Achieving Safety and Performance in Operational Readiness with Immersive Technologies’. As Singapore continues progressing towards its vision to be a Smart Nation, we should continue to find creative ways to incorporate technology into our daily work.
9.Over the next two days, you will be hearing from various speakers on a wide range of topics. These include topics on, as previously mentioned, how technology could prevent injuries at work, as well as raising resilience and hope in the face of a pandemic, and the key changes in the Work Injury Compensation Act and what does it mean for us. I encourage all of you to actively participate in the discussion after each of the sessions. This is a good opportunity for us to cross-share our innovative ideas and best practices adopted in our workplaces.
10.Once again, congratulations to BSG on her 35th anniversary, and I wish you many more years ahead. May you have a fruitful sharing and learning over the next two days.