Welcome Address for Safe Boarding of Vessels Webinar

28 May 2021 Speeches

ON 28 MAY 2021, 2:00PM

Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower;
Captain Kevin Wong, Port Master, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore; 
Mr Silas Sng, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health; 
Industry Partners;
Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good afternoon. A warm welcome to the Safe Boarding of Vessels Webinar, co-organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Workplace Safety and Health Council. I am pleased to share that this webinar is made possible with the strong support from our partners, namely the Association of Singapore Marine Industries, the Commercial Diving Association (Singapore), the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore Maritime Academy, and the Singapore Shipping Association. 

Fostering greater Workplace Safety and Health ownership
2. At a dialogue session with the water transport industry back in 2019, we agreed on the importance of conducting thorough risk assessments and equipping our workers with proper personal protective equipment to mitigate and prevent falling overboard incidents. These actions fall under the ambit of strengthening workplace safety and health ownership, and is one of the WSH 2028 key strategies to guide the Council’s efforts in achieving our vision of a Healthy Workforce in Safe Workplaces.

3. Today’s webinar marks the continuation of our journey in being vigilant and upholding workplace safety and health standards. It is timely for us to dialogue on what more can be done to encourage our stakeholders to come forward and take greater ownership in improving safety and health at our workplaces. One way to do so is to ensure that workers working near bodies of water are trained and equipped with the necessary knowledge, like how to step on and off a launch boat safely, and the possible hazards that they may encounter in a shipping or port environment. 

4. Workplace Safety and Health ownership can also be fostered when we start tracking near misses which could potentially lead to accidents. According to the accident pyramid adapted from Heinrich’s study of workplace accidents, for every accident that results in a major injury, there would be 300 near misses. By spotting these near misses early, companies can take pre-emptive action before an accident occurs. 

Incorporating health in risk assessments

5. Aside from strengthening workplace safety and health ownership, enhancing focus on workplace health is another key strategy under WSH 2028. This is particularly important to the maritime sector as workers who are accessing and egressing vessels need to be physically fit. For example, if a worker has any pre-existing medical conditions which may affect his ability to work, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, his safety may be compromised. Therefore, he should assess his health condition daily, and keep his supervisor informed. I am happy to share that the Workplace Safety and Health Council (Marine Industries) Committee is developing a set of risk assessment samples with added health components. These health components add a dimension of safety considerations in your risk assessment for workers who have pre-existing health conditions. This set of samples will be available for your use later this year, so do refer to them and adapt them to your companies’ needs.

Boosting Workplace Safety and Health awareness

6. The Workplace Safety and Health Council has also developed collaterals to remind employers and workers on what they should do whenever they are engaged in work on boats or near bodies of water. 

a) The updated “Guide to WSH for Service Providers on Safe Working on Ships at Anchorage” details hazards when boarding and working onboard a vessel, such as slippery surfaces and unguarded tank or hatch openings.

b) A new “Safe boarding of vessel” poster will be distributed to the maritime sector through the associations and industry partners within the next few months. It complements the “Wear your life jacket” poster, which was developed last year by the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore, in consultation with the National Maritime Safety at Sea Council and the Workplace Safety and Health Council.
7. These resources, which are available for download on the Workplace Safety and Health Council’s website, are handy reminders on how we can play our part in boosting workplace safety and health awareness in the maritime sector. 


8. I am excited at the line-up of distinguished speakers from PSA Marine and GAC Singapore today. I am certain that you will find their sharing on best practices insightful and I would like to encourage you to take the lessons learnt on board, where feasible. 

9. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to our partners, who steadfastly came together, and helped us make this webinar possible.  I wish everyone a fruitful session and look forward to an engaging conversation ahead. Thank you.