Training, leadership crucial in developing workplace safety
To match a workplace fatality rate of less than one death for every 100,000 workers by 2028 - similar to countries like the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and Finland - Singapore needs to build a culture of safety at the workplace.
These factors, according to Dr Jukka Takala, a senior consultant at the Workplace Safety and Health Institute, include constantly improving workplace culture, attitudes and behaviour from the top down, making sure best practices are passed on.
What is also crucial is the commitment of the management of companies to workplace safety and health (WSH).
"The Government has to take the lead too, not necessarily in terms of regulation, but having more measures to do each thing better," Dr Takala told The New Paper.
Safety@Work founder Raj Singh agreed: "The UK brings in foreign labour to a certain extent but they talk a lot about training.
"If you look at the Netherlands, they understand if they train their people right, it is not just safety (that improves), but productivity and quality."
These countries also have the habit of testing out safety practices and efficiency at work sites before allowing work to start, he added.
"Bosses need to start believing that once safety is ensured, the time (to complete a project) is reduced and workers are much happier," he said.
Some Singapore companies are building a culture of safety from top down.
One example is Samwoh, a medium-sized construction company that set up a Total WSH committee to identify safety gaps and suggest early intervention.
It regularly provides better and more ergonomic equipment for workers, and organises regular health talks to encourage its employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The Ministry of Manpower is piloting a Total WSH Services Centre in Woodlands to support smaller companies.
More such centres will be set up in other industrial zones if the pilot works well. - FOO JIE YING