SINGAPORE: A tripartite committee has proposed that the workplace safety and health (WSH) performance of companies be made more transparent as part of efforts to transform the business environment into one which recognises WSH as an integral part of business success, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo revealed on Wednesday (Aug 29).
Speaking at the Workplace Safety and Health Conference, she said: “The objective is not so much to penalise the laggards but to encourage those who do well to keep up their efforts.”
The information could also allow goods and service buyers to compare their different WSH performance when making procurement decisions, she added.
“This will give substance to the idea that good WSH is good for business, and promote greater ownership of WSH outcomes at all levels of the company, particularly at the top.”
Another area that needs transforming is how workplaces manage the health of their workers.
She said while the impact of work on the health of workers has been addressed, a less familiar dimension is how the health condition of a worker can impact safety and productivity at work.
For example, workers with chronic conditions such as diabetes may experience dizziness or poor vision while handling machinery. This can lead to serious accidents and they may injure themselves or others.
To address this, the WSH Council and the Health Promotion Board are collaborating to encourage companies to adopt a Total WSH approach, she said. This would improve both workers’ safety and health holistically such as by training WSH officers and occupational health professionals to integrate and manage both safety and health risks.
Technology advancements such as data analytics, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence can also be used to advance WSH outcomes, Mrs Teo said.
Virtual reality, for example, can be used to create simulated worksites for those who encounter safety and health risks at work. These learning opportunities can be made “bite-sized” to make it convenient for adult-learners and help develop good WSH habits through periodic reminders and learning.
On its part, Mrs Teo said MOM has started to transform its regulatory approach to promote greater ownership for WSH among companies.
It found that a combination of benchmarking information and enforcement encouraged better safety practices and ownership of WSH standards.
Last year, the ministry tested different ways to inspect workplaces based on design thinking and behavioural insights with “interesting” results, said Mrs Teo. While surprise inspections have been the mainstay in its WSH strategy, MOM also informed companies who scored poorly in the assessment.
“Many bosses had not realised that they fared poorly compared to their peers. Our inspectors were pleased to see them express a strong desire to improve. This may of course be helped by the fact that we also declared our intentions to inspect them soon,” Mrs Teo said.
The conference will also see preliminary recommendations on WSH2028 - a stategy to develop workplace safety and health over the next decade - presented to MOM’s International Advisory Panel for further consultation.
Even as Singapore is on track to reaching its target of 1.8 workplace deaths per 100,000 workers by next year, it has set a new target to cut its workplace fatality rate further by about half to under 1.0 before 2028.