Keynote Address by Mr Abu Bakar Bin Mohd Nor at Singapore Petrochemical Complex HSE Campaign 2023

08 Jun 2023 Speeches

Managing Directors and Chief Executive Officers of Complex Companies,

Management and representatives of Contractors Companies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,




  1. Good Morning. I am glad to join you here today at the launch of Singapore Petrochemical Complex’s (SPC) Health, Safety And Environment Campaign 2023.


  2. This campaign has traditionally been held close to SPC’s shut down maintenance (SDM). As I was told, the SDM is a massive exercise that involves more than 3,000 workers across different areas, like maintenance, inspection and repair. Many activities are happening at the same time within the complex. This not only poses a big challenge to operations, but also to workplace safety and health (WSH) within the complex.


  3. Therefore, I find the theme for this year’s campaign to be most fitting: “Shut down SMOOTHLY, execute SAFELY, start-up TIMELY”. Echoing what was said by Mr Imamura Eiji in his Opening Address, the theme nicely sums up what we all hope to achieve, which is zero injury and zero lost time. A successful SDM requires everyone’s collective effort, from top management to workers; from plant owners to contractors.


  4. Among many other things, this requires having top management’s commitment; conducting proper management of change and risk assessment; seamless coordination of work procedures andcommunications for workers and contractors. This is not easy, and I commend SPC for recognising that safety and health is of the utmost importance when it comes to large exercises like this.


    Exit of Heightened Safety Period and Introduction of Safety Accountability, Focus and Empowerment Measures


  5. Last month, Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad announced the exit of the Heightened Safety Period and introduced the Safety Accountability, Focus and Empowerment, or SAFE measures. Three key initiatives are applicable to the Chemical Industries:


    • Firstly, the expansion of the Demerit Point System (DPS) to the manufacturing sector, which includes the Chemical Industries. Under the DPS, serious or consistent WSH breaches can lead to temporary debarment from employing migrant workers. The DPS was first implemented within the Construction sector, with promising results. Therefore, it will be expanded to the manufacturing sector from October 2023.


    • Secondly, the expansion of legislative requirements for machinery safety. These measures aim to enhance current laws to make sure that companies take necessary steps to ensure that their machinery is safe for use. As the Chemical Industries uses various machinery for maintenance and repair activities, it is important that we take note that this would be implemented from June 2024.


    • Lastly, the requirement for the Chief Executive or Board Director of all companies in high-risk sectors to attend the Top Executive WSH Programme. This programme is already available, and I urge the top management to attend before this requirement kick in March 2024. Recognising the importance of top management’s commitment towards WSH, this initiative informs corporate leaders of their WSH responsibilities and ways to develop their companies’ WSH capabilities. In a similar vein, events such as the upcoming WSH Leadership Convention ChemPact 2024 provides a platform where business leaders and senior management demonstrate their commitment to workplace safety and health. I encourage the Chemical Industries to join the ChemPact event to pledge their support for WSH.


  6. Companies can find out more details on the SAFE measures in the MOM website[1].


    Addressing WSH Issues


  7. These SAFE measures are a step in the right direction. More can be done as we strive towards uplifting our WSH standards and bring our injury numbers down. I know most of us care very much about providing a safe and healthy workplace for our workers and are interested to learn best practices from each other. Let me share more on how companies can progress on their WSH journey.


  8. Earlier last month, I kickstarted this year’s National WSH Campaign, whose focus centres on “Reporting Saves Lives”. It calls on everyone, be it employers, workers, and even members of the public, to keep a look out for unsafe workplace situations and report them immediately. Companies are called upon to set up an internal reporting system so that employees can easily report any unsafe act or practices at the workplace.


  9. I am glad that several complex companies already have such systems in place. For example, Sumitomo Chemical Asia (SCA) and Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS) have their own internal safety reporting process where employees are encouraged to report on unsafe work practices. SCA has been encouraged by their employees' efforts to highlight unsafe acts. Last year, through the various reporting channels, SCA have a seen a significant reduction of incident reported and continues to maintain a low incidence rate for safety violations.


  10. Another initiative to reduce incidence of at-risk work behaviours is the Behaviour-Based Safety programme. PCS has this programme which allows workers to provide feedback on at-risk behaviour, with a “no-name” and “no-blame” process. As a result, PCS has seen a decrease in reported at-risk behaviour cases since the programmes’ implementation in 2004, from 10% to about 3% currently.


  11. We want to see more of such tangible results, and I encourage all companies to implement an internal reporting system and a behaviour-based safety programme, if you do not already have one. It is important to build a culture of trust so that your workers are encouraged to report unsafe situations that they see around the workplace.


    Be our bizSAFE Partner


  12. Another way companies can build their WSH capabilities is through the bizSAFE programme. Many of you worked with contractors, bizSAFE is one good way to ensure that only safe contractors work for you. The Polyolefin Company (Singapore) or TPC is one of our bizSAFE Partners who has gone the extra mile and made bizSAFE a requirement for their contractors to work in their plant. I would like to urge you to be our bizSAFE Partner, if you have not. Be our bizSAFE Partner to strengthen the safety ecosystem among the Chemical Industries.


    Adoption of technology


  13. Adoption of technology can also improve WSH outcomes. I would like to cite some good examples where companies had innovatively used technology.


    • The first is the use of drones for inspection. For example, PCS is using drones to inspect their tanks, and identify potential problems on roof structures and the upper shell of storage tanks. This removes the need for a worker to climb up the tank structure, improving work efficiencies and greatly reducing the risks associated with working at height and in confined spaces.


    • The second is the use of electronic permit to work systems. Shell Singapore, Chevron Phillips Singapore Chemicals and TPC are currently using or test-bedding such a system. This has helped to improve productivity by reducing human errors, enabling greater oversight on the various work activities and providing notifications to workers on pending work around the plant. Safety and health have also been significantly improved through more timely hazard identification and better situational awareness of the surrounding work environment.




  14. To conclude, I commend SPC, the nine complex companies and their contractors for their strong commitment towards WSH, and for being ardent supporters of maintaining high safety standards within the Chemical Industries. I encourage everyone to continue embracing the Vision Zero mindset, where every injury and ill-health at work is preventable. In addition, I thank the organising committee for a job well done in organising this year HSE campaign, and here’s to a smooth SDM. Thank you very much.