Opening Address by Mr Abu Bakar Mohd Nor at the Work at Heights Symposium 2024

19 Mar 2024 Speeches

Opening Address by Mr Abu Bakar Mohd Nor, Chairman, 
WSH Council (National Work at Heights Safety) Taskforce at the 
Work at Heights Symposium 2024 on 19 March 2024 at 9am

Presidents of ASIA, ASMI, IES, SCAL, SLA, STAS, APFM and RAS,
Members of the WSH Council (National Work at Heights Safety) Taskforce,
Distinguished speakers, industry partners,
Ladies and gentlemen.

1.   Good morning! I wish to give a warm welcome to everyone here for joining us at the Work at Heights Symposium.

2.   This year began on a good note. 
SMS Zaqy had announced in January that we had achieved a workplace fatality rate of 0.99 per 100,000 workers last year. 
Other than the pandemic year back in 2020, this is the first time we went below the rate of 1, a target we had set to achieve by 2028. However, one is still one too many.

3.   Sustaining fatality rate below 1 over a few years has been attained by only four other countries in the world. 
This is due to the collective efforts from tripartite partners and industry stakeholders such as all of you here. My appreciation to everyone for making the difference.

4.   But we cannot be complacent. We need to continue to stay vigilant, keep up our efforts so that we can sustain improvements over a longer term. 

Overview of Fall-From-Height WSH Performance
5.   However, more needs to be done. The Work at Heights Taskforce has been concerned that fatal and non-fatal injuries involving falls from height have stagnated over the past three years.
There were eight falls from height fatalities in 2021 and 2022. This figure was about the same in 2023. 
For non-fatal fall from height injuries, there were 675 in 2022, and the number is almost the same in 2023.

6.   One area that is most concerning is ladder safety. 
Falls from ladders has been the main contributor to non-fatal work at height incidents and accounted for around two-thirds of non-fatal fall from height injuries over the past three years.
In many instances, ladders were either not used in a safe manner or were poorly maintained. In some cases, we observed that the ladder was not even suitable to be used for the task. 

WSH Council’s Support for the Industry
7.   To support the industry, the Work at Heights Safety Taskforce have developed resources specifically to address ladder safety to assist the industry.
We have enhanced the Ladder Safety Pack, produced two videos, and also developed new animated GIFs for workers.

8.   These resources are all very useful, so please share them with your workers. 

9.   However what is more important is also having the right attitude and setting a culture of safety. 

Industry Ownership for Work-at-Height Safety
10.   Hence therefore I’m really pleased that today, eight industry associations are taking a pledge to show their commitment to work-at-height safety. 

11.   My appreciation to the associations for stepping forward to show your commitment towards work at height safety. 

12.   In conclusion, I would like to encourage everyone to stay committed in fostering a culture WSH ownership. Together we can reduce fall from height injuries in all workplaces for a safer future. I wish you a fruitful symposium ahead. Thank you.