Welcome Address by Mr Abu Bakar Bin Mohd Nor at the Launch of the National WSH Campaign 2023
23 May 2023 SpeechesWELCOME ADDRESS BY MR ABU BAKAR BIN MOHD NOR,
CHAIRMAN, WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH COUNCIL,
AT THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL WSH CAMPAIGN 2023,
23 MAY 2023 AT 3.00PM
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower,
Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment & Transport,
Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry & Culture, Community and Youth,
Fellow members of the WSH Council,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon, and welcome to the launch of the National Workplace Safety and Health Campaign 2023. This year’s Campaign marks yet another collaborative effort amongst our tripartite partners - the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), and the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and sets the stage for the nation’s year-long workplace safety and health focus.
2. I am delighted to share that we have members of the Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce joining us here today. Their presence builds the assurance that WSH is not just a MOM priority, but a Whole of Government priority.
Reporting Saves Lives
3. In January this year, the Government accepted recommendations by MOM’s International Advisory Panel on workplace safety and health. One such recommendation is to build workplaces where workers feel safe to speak up. This is because they are the ones that are facing the risks directly. Company supervisors and managers, who may not be fully involved in the tasks, may not fully appreciate the risks.
4. We agree with this stance, and have designed this year’s Campaign to support this. Themed “Reporting Saves Lives”, this year’s Campaign calls on everyone, be it employers, workers, and even members of the public, to play our part in caring for each others’ safety and health.
Employers – Set up an Internal Reporting System
5. A simple way for companies to start is by having an internal reporting system, where employees who spot an unsafe situation can report them to their bosses. Such systems need not be elaborate nor costly. Some of my SME friends told me that they use available messaging apps as an internal reporting channel. Such easily accessible platforms make it easier for employers to quickly act on feedback received.
6. To make this work, there has to be a culture of trust between employers and employees. As employers, you need to trust that when your workers report an unsafe situation, they are doing it to uplift safety for themselves and their co-workers, not to disrupt or delay work. Workers must also trust their employers, that they have safety in mind, and are looking to learn and prevent injuries, rather than finding fault.
7. I am glad that this year’s Campaign has the strong support from both SNEF and NTUC, key organisations representing our employers and workers respectively. SNEF will help deliver our Campaign message on how a robust internal reporting system will help employers create a safe workplace.
Workers – Speak up on Safety Issues
8. For workers, reporting an unsafe act not only protects you, but also your co-workers. Do not be afraid to come forward as there are provisions under the law to protect you against wrongful dismissal for reporting WSH issues.
9. Workers who spot any unsafe practices or conditions should report them to your boss, or if need be, to MOM. Migrant workers can submit their feedback to MOM using the FWMOMCare app, or approach the Migrant Workers’ Centre.
10. I am also heartened that the NTUC is actively getting their union leaders’ to support workers on this. If the workers are not comfortable telling their bosses about safety risks, they can approach their union leaders, who will discuss these issues with management.
Members of the Public – Doing your Part
11. This year’s Campaign also appeals to members of the public to do your part. If you spot an unsafe workplace situation, you can submit your feedback online via the SnapSAFE form on MOM’s website. You may notice too that there are QR codes on worksite hoardings. These will point you to the same form where you can attach photos and a description of the safety lapse that you see.
12. The WSH Council has produced collaterals, such as posters, to raise awareness on how you can report safety lapses. More information on the Campaign is also available on our website, so do visit it to learn more on how we can all play our part. Watch out too for short videos produced specially for the Campaign that will be released over the next few months.
ENGIE Services Singapore’s EHS Portal
13. A company that embodies our Campaign theme of “Reporting Saves Lives” is ENGIE Services Singapore (ENGIE). To make it easier for their employees to report unsafe acts and potential risks spotted, ENGIE developed their Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) Portal back in 2022. All feedback submitted into the portal is routed to supervisors for action so that they could be properly addressed.
14. The EHS Portal also generates monthly statistics that help the company tracks its WSH performance. Such data enables ENGIE to deploy the necessary preventive actions in a timely manner to ensure that employee safety is not compromised. Since the portal’s implementation, ENGIE has seen a significant 58% reduction in incidents observed from January to May 2023 compared to the same period last year.
15. Today’s Campaign launch is a timely reminder that all of us - employers, workers, and members of the public, have a part to play in our nation’s journey towards WSH 2028.
16. As we strive to ensure a healthy workforce in safe workplaces, remember that “reporting saves lives”. I wish everyone here a pleasant week ahead.