27 Jan 2022
OPENING ADDRESS BY MR ZAQY MOHAMAD,
SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER, AT
CHEMPACT 2022, 20 JANUARY 2022
Mr John Ng, Chairman, WSH Council
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. A very good morning to all. I am pleased to be here at the first-ever Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Leadership Convention: ChemPact 2022.
2. ChemPact 2022, as the name implies, is a platform for leaders, like yourselves, to form a ‘pact’ between you, your employees, and your peers in the chemical industry.
a. It represents your unyielding commitment towards setting high WSH standards,
b. and the promise that you will do your utmost in providing a safe and healthy working environment.
3. And so, much like how we usually make New Year’s resolutions to set goals for the year ahead, today’s ChemPact will see leaders in the chemical industries committing and pledging goals to improve the safety and health of their employees.
WSH performance for the Chemical Industry
4. Since 2017, injury rates in the Chemical Industries have remained consistently low, averaging around 30% less than the national injury rate.
a. This is a commendable effort, made possible through the WSH ownership that many of you have displayed.
b. As Mr Wim Roels mentioned earlier, the Jurong Island Vision Zero cluster has been rolling out many initiatives for the chemical industry.
c. These include forums and newsletters which constantly remind and actively share good WSH practices within the sector.
d. That said, we must not rest on our laurels. Accidents can and will happen if you are not alert or at any point are negligent.
5. Some of you may remember that in 2015, safety lapses at a gas manufacturing firm led to a laboratory fire that killed chemist, who had just returned from her maternity leave, and injured several other employees.
a. Investigations found that the lab had several systemic lapses.
b. These include the failure to ensure modified regulatory valve assemblies were safe for use, and the failure to review safety procedures.
c. The CEO pleaded guilty and was charged under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
d. As top management, the CEO was responsible for the safety procedure in the laboratory and in ensuring a safe and healthy working environment for all employees.
e. The failure of the company’s leadership to take ownership of WSH placed her employees in danger, and led to the tragic loss of one worker.
f. Any life lost, is one too many.
Leadership, stewardship and mentorship
6. Industry leaders, like yourselves, play a critical role in setting safety and health standards and culture at your workplaces.
a. As top executives, you wield both authority and control over resources, which contribute towards a workplace culture that prioritises safety and health.
b. By walking the talk, taking ownership and setting clear expectations, your actions can help avert accidents and protect your employees.
7. I am very heartened with how the industry has responded since then, with positive steps with top management executives, leading by example.
8. You exercise Leadership – this is very clear from crafting your WSH Pledges. It sends a strong signal to everyone in the company on your priority placed on safety and health.
9. You also exercise Stewardship over WSH – by taking care of and ensuring that WSH standards are upheld.
a. Your employees are looking to you for the assurance that you will do all you can to protect their livelihoods and let them go home to their families safely.
b. The cumulative effort from all of you is helping to safeguard industry interests.
c. When every company is set on making their work premise safe, the reputation of the chemical industry improves. And this supports talent attraction and retention.
10. Finally, you play a Mentorship role – your employees look to you for direction and guidance on implementing good WSH practices.
a. When your employees become leaders themselves, you can take pride in knowing that you have played an instrumental role in grooming leaders who are strong advocates of WSH, and who will continue to keep the industry safe.
11. That is the purpose of ChemPact today – to showcase and encourage other leaders, to publicly pledge their commitment towards creating a safe culture and healthy workplace.
a. I am confident that through these pledges, the chemical industry will continue to uphold high WSH standards,
b. and serve as inspiration to other industries as well.
Launch of Vision Zero video
12. I am very encouraged by the progress of the Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster, which I had the pleasure of launching in November 2018.
13. Their contributions continue to maintain high WSH standards in the chemical industry.
14. This positive influence has spurred several other industries to start their own Vision Zero journeys.
a. In July 2021, four logistics and transportation industry associations banded together to pledge towards Vision Zero;
b. In October 2021, the Bedok Safety Group, a voluntary group comprising safety professionals from various companies, formed the first Vision Zero cluster from the manufacturing sector.
c. Similarly, at the World Engineers Summit in November 2021, the Institution of Engineers Singapore pledged their commitment to Vision Zero. They are the first professional society in Singapore to support this movement.
15. On this note, I am pleased to launch the showcase of the National Vision Zero video today, developed to help drive the Vision Zero movement further.
a. Vision Zero is an ongoing, lifelong process that requires everyone to be onboard.
b. I hope that this video will serve as inspiration for you that our workers are our greatest and most valuable asset.
c. Which is why, we should do our utmost to ensure that all injuries and ill-health are prevented for their sake.
d. We dedicate this video to them.
e. This video will be available on the WSH Council website, so please share it with your partners and industry peers.
16. Today’s ChemPact signifies a strong commitment from industry leaders, to keep our workplaces safe and healthy.
a. I wish you well on this journey and may it serve as a reminder to uphold good WSH standards, and for all of us to be a beacon of inspiration for all industries.
17. Thank you.