Opening Address by Mr Yam Ah Mee at the BCA Academy and IOSH Singapore WSH Conference 2023

24 Aug 2023 Speeches

Opening Address by Mr Yam Ah Mee, Chairman, 
WSH Council Construction & Landscape Committee at the BCA Academy and IOSH Singapore WSH Conference 2023 
on Wednesday, 23 August 2023 at 1pm

Mr Paul Juwono, Director, School of Professional and Specialist Education, BCA Academy, Building and Construction Authority,
Mr Lawrence Webb, President, Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, United Kingdom,
Ladies and gentlemen.

1. Good afternoon. I am happy to join you at this year’s BCAA-IOSH WSH Conference. I understand from the organisers that we have about 260 participants online for this Conference, from Singapore, United Kingdom and other international partners. My thanks to everyone for their strong support for WSH and the organisers for taking the lead in this Conference.

WSH performance of the construction industry

2. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had earlier announced that the overall annualised fatality rate had reduced from 1.5 per 100,000 workers for January 2022 to August 2022, to 0.8 during the Heightened Safety Period (HSP) from September 2022 to May 2023. 

3. The Construction sector made significant improvements during the HSP. Before the HSP, the average monthly number of workplace fatalities between January and August 2022 was 1.6. This fell to 0.7 between September 2022 and May 2023. The annualised workplace fatality rate also fell by more than half from 4.1 to 1.6 for these respective periods. 

4. This shows that with concerted efforts from all stakeholders, the construction industry is able to work together and achieve good WSH outcomes. 

5. Workers who are newly deployed to an unfamiliar worksite, likely dealing with work processes and hazards, are particularly vulnerable. In 2022, there were sadly a few cases involving workers, who may have been in Singapore for many years, but new to their worksite, who died from workplace incidents. I would like to share a specific case that happened on 19 May last year. A worker was on the roof of a factory preparing for cleaning works. Unfortunately, he was not wearing any fall-arrest equipment and fell through a skylight, landing 9.5 metres below. He was taken to the hospital but unfortunately succumbed to his injuries.  

6. This clearly shows the importance of new workers having a proper and thorough induction process into their job roles and work environment, including donning the appropriate personal protective equipment for their tasks. 

Sustaining WSH Standards Post-HSP
7. While we have made good improvements during the HSP, it is critical that we sustain our WSH vigilance post-HSP. The Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce has developed a set of sectoral and broad-based measures to strengthen the WSH ecosystem, and the roles of each stakeholder in uplifting WSH. 

8. Several of these measures are relevant to the Construction sector, and I would like to share some of them:

o First, more stringent safety requirements in Government Procurement Entities’ construction tenders, as well as the introduction of new measures such as a WSH Bonus Scheme to incentivise good safety performance; 
o Second, worksites with high-risk activities and a project value of $5 million and above must have a Video Surveillance System installed; and
o Chief Executives and Board of Directors of companies in high-risk industries must attend the Top Executive WSH Programme.

9. Details of these measures are progressively being announced, and I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the WSH Council’s WSH Bulletin so that you will be kept informed of these latest developments. 

Leveraging technology to enhance WSH Ownership
10. Today’s Conference centres around technology, a key enabler for our industry to achieve WSH excellence. Our esteemed speakers today will share more on how you can use these advanced technologies to create a workplace that not only is safe and healthy for workers, but also more productive.

11. The upcoming requirement for the Video Surveillance System (VSS) is a case in point. I have personally seen companies who have coupled VSS with artificial intelligence capabilities to better improve WSH outcomes. The application of technology and its possibilities are endless, even in the Construction industry. And I hope everyone can take back something beneficial from today’s event.

12. In conclusion, I would like to thank the BCA Academy and IOSH Singapore for their efforts in promulgating WSH practices and steering the industry’s journey towards WSH excellence. I wish everyone a fruitful Conference ahead. Thank you.