Opening Address by Ms Kwee Wei-Lin at the WSH Forum for the Food and Beverage Industry
23 May 2022 SpeechesOpening Address by Ms Kwee Wei-Lin,
Chairperson of WSH Council (Hospitality and Entertainment Industries) Committee,
at the WSH Forum for the Food and Beverage Industry
Mr Silas Sng, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health,
Members of the WSH Council,
Industry partners and colleagues
1. Thank you for coming to this year’s Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) forum for the Food & Beverage Industry.
2. I think that WSH is an important priority for all responsible businesses, and I am glad to hear that we have close to 200 participants today who are either here physically or virtually. One of the things we have learnt through COVID is that we can have virtual guests. Hello everyone!
A Job Well Done over the Past Two Years
3. First, I want to begin by commending all of you for your hard work, ingenuity and adaptiveness for the past two years. We understand that it has been extremely tough for the industry.
4. Every day or every week, we had new rules coming up and everyone was scrambling to reimagine and re-organise our operations to comply with Safe Management Measures, so I thank everyone for your hard work. In addition to worrying about business survival, we also needed to manage our customers’ demands and expectations as they were constantly adjusting to the changing rules as well. COVID-19 has indeed taken a real toll on the industry, and on both the mental as well as physical health of our F&B colleagues.
5. Our industry has come a long way from the COVID-embattled days, so thank you everyone for your determination and commitment. We definitely do see light at the end of the tunnel. Right now, we are all experiencing so much work but it is a happy problem as we are also glad to see our customers back to support us. Thank you everyone for staying with us. I would like to add that for the Singapore Hotel Association, we had 160 members before the pandemic and now, we still have 160 members, it’s really great that everyone stayed!
Taking Care of our F&B Colleagues
6. I think the fact that with greater work demands placed on our F&B workers now, be it at the front-line or in the kitchen, WSH has become even more important because of the manpower crunch.
7. Thus, the programme for this forum is specially curated to focus on WSH best practices, as well as promoting the mental and physical well-being of our F&B colleagues. I want to emphasise that WSH is a long term investment and not something that we only do once or twice. Thus, I thank everyone for taking time to attend this forum, as I know everyone must be so busy.
8. There is definitely room for us to improve in the F&B industry. Although there has not been any fatal accident recorded for the past two years, there has been an increase in non-fatal injuries over the last five years.
9. Statistics have shown that over the period of 2016 to 2021, major injuries increased by 33% while minor injuries went up by 13%. Slips, Trips and Falls, or STFs, remained the top cause for both major and minor injuries in the industry and to mitigate STFs, it is important for both employers and their staff to take ownership of workplace safety and health.
Ensuring Good Well-Being
10. Another important aspect is the wellness of our F&B colleagues. Studies have shown that happy and healthy staff are more engaged and productive at work. For business owners, remember that happy and healthy staff also tend to stay longer, and you’ll also face less problems of turnover. Ensuring mental and physical well-being is vital as it leads to a win-win outcome.
Take Time to Take Care of Safety and Health
11. I am pleased to share that the WSH Council together with its tripartite partners have recently launched this year’s National WSH Campaign.
12. For this year, the highlight is the National WSH Campaign Workout, which we will do later on. It is a fun and energising exercise which both employers and their staff can partake, either at the start of the day or during breaks. The campaign workout video will be screened later in the programme and a demonstration of the exercise routine will follow after.
13. Another activity under this year’s Campaign is the National #WSHWorkout Challenge and I would therefore like to urge you to rally your colleagues to take a short video of yourselves. Put this on social media and hashtag “WSHWorkout”. There are attractive prizes for winning entries and details of the Challenge can be found on the WSH Council’s website.
Contributions by the WSH Council (H&EI) Committee
14. Next, I would like to record my appreciation to members of the WSH Council (Hospitality and Entertainment Industries) Committee. To many of you who are here, thank you for your commitment and support.
15. The committee has provided in-depth insights on improving the WSH standards for the industry based on their on-the-ground knowledge, and ensured that the WSH Guidelines are kept relevant to today’s operating landscape. I am heartened to share that we have completed revising the WSH Guidelines for the Hospitality and Entertainment Industries. The updated Guidelines will be shared with various industry stakeholders, partners, and association members. You can also look forward to downloading it from the WSH Council website.
16. I want to thank all our esteemed speakers who will be sharing their knowledge on how the industry can further enhance WSH. My special thanks goes to our expert moderator who will be facilitating the panel discussion.
17. As a concluding remark, I would like to underscore the point that taking care of our staff’s safety and health must not be seen as an expense but instead as a worthy investment, and the right thing to do. Many of you would have read recent media reports on the call for industries to conduct a Safety Time-Out, that is, to pause operations, review WSH processes and learn best practices, as there have been quite a few accidents this year. It is time for us to take a look at what we can do. We need to take care of all our workers and avoid any fatalities. I highly encourage you to participate in the Safety Time-Out.
18. Thank you everyone for your participation and I look forward to seeing all of you do the workout later on.