Singapore

MOM to work closely with employers to manage infections, accidents

International advisory panel also urges greater mental health support at work

The Ministry of Manpower will work closely with employers and building owners to better manage the risks of infectious diseases spreading at the workplace, while continuing to stay vigilant in preventing workplace accidents.

Mental health support will also be enhanced, with a free online assessment tool called iWorkHealth available early next year to help employers identify work stressors and support employees better, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad yesterday.

These were recommendations by the International Advisory Panel for Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) for a post-Covid world that have been accepted by the Government, he added.

Speaking at the closing of the two-day virtual Singapore WSH Conference, he noted that as the pandemic changes the way businesses operate, with more people working from home, workplace safety and health must also be adjusted to address new concerns.

Given the risk of a future "disease X" that may be more infectious and lethal than Covid-19, the panel suggested that the ministry build on its experience working with public health authorities, through the multi-ministry task force, to integrate infectious disease management in the workplace.

To achieve this, the Government will work closely with employers and building owners to develop guidelines, such as sharing information on hot spots, for more targeted risk identification and interventions, said Mr Zaqy.

The panel also recommended greater mental health support at work, with companies encouraged to incorporate mental well-being as part of their risk assessment and management frameworks.

Panel member Wiking Husberg, an international consultant on occupational safety and health, said mental health is important to workers' and firms' productivity, but is a difficult area to legislate.

"Singapore ought to focus on promoting greater awareness and creating a supportive work organisation and environment that is conducive towards employees' mental well-being," added Mr Husberg.

On Tuesday, a tripartite advisory for mental well-being at work was issued on how companies can support their workers' mental health.

In its report, the panel also urged MOM to continue maintaining vigilance in preventing workplace accidents, even as companies manage new risks arising from Covid-19.

In particular, MOM should conduct deeper investigations into the top contributor of major injuries - slips, trips and falls - to understand the root causes of this growing problem.

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Employment