Opening Address by Mr Zaqy Mohamad at the Launch of the Safe Hands Campaign 2023

01 Apr 2023 Speeches

30 MARCH 2023

Industry Partners, 
Distinguished guests, 
Ladies and gentlemen, 

1.   Good morning. I am glad to be part of the launch of this year’s Safe Hands Campaign. 

2.   Last year was a particularly trying period for workplace safety and health, which resulted in us introducing a Heightened Safety Period (HSP) in September to address the spate of workplace fatalities. 
a. Out of the 46 fatalities in 2022, six of them were from the manufacturing industry. 
b. In fact, the manufacturing sector remains the second highest contributor in major injuries, with 122 major injuries in 2022.  
c. Machinery incidents were the top cause of those major injuries. 

3.   The number of amputations incidents had also shown no improvement. There were 41 in 2021, and 42 in 2022. 
a. Most of these amputations were caused by the lack of control measures, such as machine guards or Lock Out Tag Out procedures that will properly depower the machine while doing repairs or maintenance. 
b. In short, these accidents could easily have been prevented.

Increased Efforts and Resources in Curbing Amputation Injuries

4.   Many other types of machinery accidents could also have been prevented.  
a. You may recall the tragic explosion, which took the lives of three workers and injured seven others, at Stars Engineering’s premises back in February 2021. 
b. An Inquiry Committee later found that there were unsafe and illegal modifications done to the machinery, which led to the explosion. 

5.   To prevent unsafe machinery modifications and sourcing of inherently unsafe machines, the Committee strongly recommends that buyers of machinery get those machines certified as compliant to an industry safety standard. 
a. Doing so is one of the ways that companies can fulfil their duties under the WSH Act, as the Act requires occupiers to ensure that the machineries are safe for use. 
b. If occupiers are not able to get certification or documentation from manufacturers or suppliers that their machine is safe, then occupiers have to certify their machines as meeting industry standards. 
c. Such certifications will reduce the likelihood of malfunction and in turn, accidents.

6.   Buyers or owners of industrial equipment may be unsure if their machines are properly certified safe for use, especially if the supplier is not from an established source, or if the equipment is not installed or commissioned by the manufacturer. 
a. This is why the Ministry of Manpower will introduce a programme in May this year.
b. Inspection companies will check and verify that the equipment conforms to the requirements of the Singapore Standards (SS) 537-1. 
c. This programme is voluntary, but occupiers of workplaces and machine owners are ultimately still held responsible under the WSH Act to ensure that their machines are safe. 
d. Failure to do this will constitute an offence and result in penalties. So this programme will help companies fulfil their legal obligations, if they have no other way of ensuring that their machines are safe for use. 
e. I strongly encourage you to sign up for this programme. 

7.   Earlier this month, I observed a WSH consultant guiding an SME on rectifying safety lapses around their workplace, as part of the StartSAFE programme. 
a. This free programme, spearheaded by the WSH Council, helps SMEs identify WSH risks and implement good WSH practices. 
b. It acts as a good starting point for companies who are keen to strengthen their WSH capabilities, but may not know how. 
c. The StartSAFE programme also supports manufacturing companies that need help to kickstart their WSH journey, and I encourage all interested companies to refer to the WSH Council’s website for more information. 

8.   Additionally, the WSH Council has produced a series of collaterals to remind workers of the need to operate machines in a safe manner. These resources are also available in native languages such as, Bengali, Mandarin, Tamil, Thai, and Vietnamese. 

9.   The bottom-line is that support for companies to improve in WSH is available.  Be proactive to take advantage of it and prevent accidents, rather than regret it later when you have an accident. 

10.   On the enforcement front, we will also continue to keep up the tempo by conducting specialised operations from April to June, targeting Manufacturing and Construction activities involving the use of higher-risk machinery – activities that can lead to amputation of limbs if an accident occurs. 

Exemplary companies with best WSH practices

11.   At this juncture, I would like to thank Cameron, an SLB company, for hosting today’s Safe Hands Campaign launch. 
a. With “People First” being amongst their core values, I commend SLB for its strong emphasis on WSH ownership. 
b. SLB has company-wide in-house safety campaigns and recognition programmes. They also offer in-house hands and fingers safety-related training, and certifications on topics such as hand injuries and awareness. 
c. The company also successfully clocked more than 900 days since its last reportable hand or fingers incident in August 2020. This goes to show that good WSH is attainable. 
d. When you take active measures to ensure your workers’ safety and health, your employees’ engagement and productivity levels are likely to be higher, and clients are assured that your projects will not be delayed due to accidents. 


12.   In conclusion, workplace safety is never worth cutting corners for, and the cost of a workplace fatality far outweighs any potential gains in revenue. 
a. I would like to commend those of you who have pledged your commitment towards this years’ Safe Hands Campaign. 
b. Let us work hand-in-hand and strive towards zero accidents at the workplace. 

13.   Thank you and have a fruitful session ahead.