Workplace safety and health in Singapore

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Workplace Safety and Health Council

The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council was formed on 1 April 2008. The WSHC is an industry-led Statutory Body that is based in Singapore. It is a step-up from its precursor, the Workplace Safety and Health Advisory Committee (WSHAC) formed in September 2005. The WSHC is endowed with statutory powers and hence, would be well placed to lead or partner with the various industry sectors in Singapore through the engagement and capability building efforts.

The WSHC comprises 18 leaders from the major industry sectors (including construction, manufacturing, marine industries, petrochemicals and logistics), the Government, unions and professionals from the legal, insurance and academic fields.

Under the WSHC, seven industry committees, two taskforces and two workgroups have been formed to address the specific WSH challenges in their respective sectors:

  • Construction and Landscape Committee
  • Healthcare Committee
  • Logistics and Transport Committee
  • Marine Industries Committee
  • Metalworking and Manufacturing Committee
  • Chemical Industries Committee
  • Hospitality & Entertainment Industries Committee
  • Crane Safety Taskforce
  • Work at Height Safety Taskforce
  • Insurance Workgroup
  • Facilities Management Workgroup

Mission and Vision Statements[edit]

The vision and mission of the WSHC are:

Vision[edit]

A safe and healthy workplace for everyone; and a country renowned for best practices in WSH

Mission[edit]

To lead industry efforts in strengthening capabilities and building a progressive culture in WSH

The Partners[edit]

The WSHC works closely with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and other government agencies, various industry sectors, unions and professional associations in development of strategies and programmes to raise WSH standards in Singapore.

Main Functions and Key Programmes[edit]

WSH 2018: A National Strategy for WSH for Singapore[edit]

The WSH 2018 National Strategy spells out the national vision, strategies and strategic outcomes to lower Singapore's workplace fatality rate to less than 1.8 per 100,000 workers by 2018. Co-drafted by the WSH Council and MOM, the WSH 2018 National Strategy aims to synergise the efforts and resources of all stakeholders to realise the vision of "A safe and healthy workplace for everyone; and a country renowned for best practices in workplace safety and health".

To achieve the desired WSH 2018 vision, four strategic outcomes were identified:

  • Strategic Outcome 1: Reduction in WSH Incident Rates
  • Strategic Outcome 2: Safety and Health is an Integral Part of Business
  • Strategic Outcome 3: Singapore is Renowned as a Centre of Excellence for WSH
  • Strategic Outcome 4: A Progressive and Pervasive Safety and Health Culture

A multi-pronged approach is needed to achieve these strategic outcomes. Therefore, four strategies were identified to guide the efforts of all stakeholders in strengthening WSH improvements and drive the process towards safer and healthier workplaces. The four strategies are:

  • Strategy 1: Build Strong Capabilities to Better Manage WSH
  • Strategy 2: Implement an Effective Regulatory Framework
  • Strategy 3: Promote the Benefits of WSH and Recognise Best Practices
  • Strategy 4: Develop Strong Partnerships Locally and Internationally

Build Capability of the Industry to Better Manage WSH[edit]

The WSHC collaborates with other government agencies including the Workforce Development Agency (WDA). Utilising the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) framework developed by WDA, the WSH Professional WSQ framework was established for the competency training of WSH Professionals. Complementing the training development aspects, the WSHC conducts regular reviews and audits of Accredited Training Providers so as to ensure a pool of highly credible and competent WSH training providers.

Promote WSH And Recognise Companies With Good WSH Performance[edit]

To build and promote WSH culture in the community, the WSHC actively organises events and programmes, engaging various stakeholders, to promote the importance of WSH and its benefits and provide the necessary guidance for its implementation. Some of these activities include the National WSH Campaign, the WSH Awards and the “Safety Starts With Me” campaign and various WSH seminars, conferences and workshops targeting different categories of workforce. Among the staple of WSHC publications are the WSH statistical reports, case studies, guidelines, technical advisories, approved codes of practice, posters, flyers and videos, and iWSH (newsletter specially designed for workers). The WSHC also has an up-to-date website, and the WSH Bulletin, an electronic bulletin that highlights the latest in WSH issues.

Conduct Research And Setting Acceptable WSH Practices[edit]

The WSHC conducts research and environmental scanning to keep abreast of both local and international WSH developments. By analysing and forecasting trends in WSH, the WSHC helps identify emerging challenges and develop new measures to improve WSH outcomes in Singapore. The WSHC drives the adoption of good WSH practices with various stakeholders in the WSH industry. The WSHC also works in collaboration with the other standard-setting bodies to develop national WSH standards, as well as lead the development of industry guidelines, and establish approved codes of practices for the industry.

WSHC Programmes[edit]

Through effective WSH management, the business performance of an enterprise can improve. The WSHC has introduced and will continue to develop and introduce programmes and tools in collaboration with other agencies to assist enterprises to build their WSH capabilities. These programmes include:

bizSAFE[edit]

bizSAFE is a capability building programme that is tailored to assist the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) in building up their WSH capabilities. It provides a 5-step approach ranging from top management demonstrating their commitment towards WSH, to acquiring Risk Management capability and inclusion of a Workplace Safety and Health Management System within the organisation.

Guidelines on Design for Safety in Buildings and Structures[edit]

Design and planning is an essential component in every construction work. In line with the WSH Act, reducing risk at source is one of the key components towards improving safety at the worksite. To address the risk at source, there is a need to look at who creates the risk and address the issue from there. While the WSH Act imposes a duty on the occupiers, employers and principals, the risks inherent in the design will also need to be addressed and the means to mitigate the risks identified. In addition, accidents are often a result of either poor planning or lack of communication between the designer and the occupier, resulting in loss of information. The process to ensure the transfer of relevant information and documents are therefore recorded.

This guideline serves to assist key stakeholders on the process of design safety and the transfer of vital safety and health information along the construction process chain. To facilitate this, duties of the various stakeholders are specified, as well as Design Reviews stipulated, creating a framework which allows every stakeholder to participate in making vital safety and health decisions.

Risk Management Assistance Fund[edit]

A co-funding assistance scheme for SMEs to implement risk management at the workplace.

Under the WSH (Risk Management) Regulations, a risk assessment must be conducted at the workplace in relation to the safety and health risks posed to any person. This includes the identification of the safety and health hazards, and the evaluation of the probability and consequences of injury or illness arising from exposure to the identified hazards. The company also needs to take reasonably practicable steps to eliminate, minimise or control the risks. In addition, the company should communicate the risks and control measures to persons at the workplace.

Recognising that SMEs may lack capabilities and/or resources to implement risk management, the Risk Management Assistance Fund (RMAF) was set up in April 2006 to help them defray the cost of engaging consultants to build this in-house capability.

References[edit]