Singapore

PUB lauded for bettering workers’ safety

It is one of five winners recognised for driving workplace safety and health initiatives

Workers at national water agency PUB regularly inspect about 90,000 manholes islandwide, a process that involves lifting the heavy manhole cover to enter a confined space to check on the conditions of pipes, which could contain sewage and methane gas.

To make their work safer and more efficient, PUB turned to technology by trying out borescopes, which are compact and flexible cameras that workers can use to inspect manholes without opening the covers.

Mr Maurice Neo, director of PUB's water reclamation (network) department, said workplace safety is vital as the agency operates water plants and factories, large networks and does a lot of construction.

KEPPEL FELS

Similarly, Keppel FELS is also using technology such as a robotic diver to do hazardous underwater inspections in place of workers to improve its accident frequency rate, save costs and boost employees' morale.

The two organisations were among five winners in the new "champion category", for unionised companies that drive workplace safety and health initiatives, at NTUC's U Safe Forum and Awards yesterday.

The Building Construction and Timber Industries Employees' Union, Housing and Development Board Staff Union and Public Utilities Board Employees' Union were lauded for being key advocates of workplace safety and health (WSH).

Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, who presented the awards, said in a speech that union leaders have been instrumental in getting support from employers and workers for national WSH initiatives.

For instance, more than half of unionised companies have achieved at least BizSafe Level 3 and have implemented effective risk management plans, compared with just one in 10 non-unionised companies.

BizSafe is a tiered framework to certify the robustness of companies' risk management systems and recommend ways to improve them.

Besides joining the programme, firms can also identify training gaps and equip staff with safety knowledge through company training committees that the unions are setting up with company managers, said Mr Zaqy at the event at the Devan Nair Institute for Employment and Employability.

"I encourage the unions to continue championing progressive WSH practices among employers," he said, addressing about 500 union leaders, safety officers and company and government representatives.

"This can take the form of adopting systematic reporting of near misses, empowering workers to stop work when they detect risky situations, and appointing WSH representatives to identify and mitigate risks."

Employment