Singapore

MOM adopts new strategy to boost workplace safety

This article is more than 12 months old

Firms told how they fare compared with peers

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) is using a new method to boost workplace safety - motivating companies by telling them how they fare compared with others in the industry.

This brings a new dimension to MOM's surprise inspections, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo at the opening of the biennial Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference yesterday.

While MOM has been working to deter lapses via inspections, it may no longer need to inspect every single company all the time in the future.

The new method, piloted over six months last year, was found to encourage companies to "reassess safety practices in all their worksites", said Mrs Teo.

She said there are plans to expand the pilot, which involved about 180 construction companies.

As part of the pilot, companies were sorted into four bands based on enforcement action they received over the past three years. These include stop-work orders, composition fines and notices of non-compliance.

The companies' bosses were informed of their safety performance. Besides identifying lapses, inspectors would also point out root causes of safety issues, advising companies on how to take action.

Problems that a construction company such as QXY Resources faced included its sub-contractors inadvertently creating hazardous conditions at worksites by removing a safety railing to do plastering work but failing to replace it afterwards, said Mr Mohd Yazid Mohd Yasin, QXY's head of safety.

It was ranked "very poor" - the fourth and lowest band - at the start of the pilot, but has since achieved an "average" band, which is the second best.

"Since we received a poor rating, we have done more frequent inspections, on top of receiving site observations from safety coordinators," said Mr Yazid.

The company is also planning to introduce a point system to encourage workers to report errant behaviour.

Yesterday, Mrs Teo also outlined the preliminary recommendations by a Tripartite Strategy Committee convened earlier this year to develop a 10-year plan improving workplace safety and health.

Singapore had an average workplace fatal injury rate of 2.1 over the past decade and achieved a record low rate of 1.2 last year, said Mrs Teo.

The aim is to reduce and maintain the rate at less than one for every 100,000 workers from 2018 to 2028.

There are three potential areas of improvement. One, the workplace safety performance of companies can be more transparent, so buyers of goods and services can compare it across companies when making procurement decisions.

Second, experts in safety and health can be trained to manage risks in both areas.

Third, technological advancements such as data analytics can be tapped to improve safety.

Employment