Views

Your views: Collective efforts needed to improve workplace safety and health outcomes

I refer to the letters "Work together to make work safer" and "Learn about safety from oil and gas industry" (The New Paper, Dec 27).

Similar to main contractors, sub-contractors are also liable and subjected to an enforcement and penalty framework if they are found responsible for safety lapses.

The relationship between main and sub-contractors should, however, not be about shifting blame.

It must be collaborative in nature with the main contractor exercising strong leadership to improve workplace safety and health (WSH) outcomes at their sites for all workers.

Developers and main contractors should consider the WSH track records and capabilities of sub-contractors when awarding contracts.

Sub-contractors should take steps to improve their WSH management system. The bizSAFE programme serves this purpose. Today, over 25,000 companies are bizSAFE-certified.

The Government has taken the lead to require at least bizSAFE Level 3 certification for public construction project tenders.

COURSES

Training is also important in ensuring that workers are aware of risks and know how to protect themselves.

Today, there are over 56 safety courses across four key industries. The curriculum is regularly reviewed, and we have a system of audits to uphold standards.

In the past 12 months, we have revoked the licences of 11 accredited training providers (ATPs) for fraudulent practices. By July 1 this year, all ATPs are required to attain the ISO standards. By 2019, all WSH courses will be qualified under the Workforce Skills Qualifications framework.

Ultimately, sustained improvement in WSH can be realised only if leadership is committed to bringing about a culture where all harm can be prevented.

We are, therefore, heartened that leaders from eight industry associations, representing the entire value chain in the construction industry, came together in 2015 to pledge their commitment to reduce the fatality rate in the construction sector.

Over 50 action items are in progress, including the introduction of an induction programme for construction workers and the development of Professional Standards for WSH professionals.

MOM and WSH Council will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to implement these plans to ensure the safety and health of our workers.

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