10 Feb 2022
OPENING REMARKS BY MR SILAS SNG, COMMISSIONER FOR WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH, MINISTRY OF MANPOWER, AT THE WSH TRAINING PROVIDERS’ FORUM 2022 ON 10 FEBRUARY 2022 @ 2:00PM
Partners from SkillsFuture Singapore, and
Singapore Accreditation Council,
Workplace Safety and Health Training Providers;
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. Good afternoon. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a safe and happy lunar new year.
2. The last two years have been challenging for the industry, and the WSH training fraternity was not spared. The first suspected COVID-19 case was detected in Singapore on 4 January 2020. A series of strict safe management measures had to be put in place very quickly, which eventually led to the imposition of a Circuit Breaker on 7 April 2020 as an aftermath. In an unprecedented move, all in-person trainings were then suspended, and it was not until August 2020 when such training was allowed to resume.
The use of technology in learning
3. The suspension of in-person training left us with little reaction time to move to online training, learning and assessment. I would like to personally thank training providers for working closely with the WSH Council to quickly develop the online learning option. Many of you had to pivot and innovate. In addition, providers have also instituted quality control measures to ensure high quality in online course delivery and integrity of the online assessment. The online learning quickly covered the gap in WSH training during that time. It allowed workers to keep up their WSH knowledge in a COVID-safe way, and just like many other innovations that Singapore was compelled to adopt during the pandemic, it opened our eyes to new possibilities in training delivery.
4. Even now, as we switch gears to adapt to endemic living, online learning acts as a supplement to in-person training, making WSH training more resilient and accessible to every worker. This reinforces the WSH Council’s resolve to incorporate technology in WSH training for better assimilation and more effective learning experience, for the learner. This also aligns with one of the WSH 2028 Strategies on the adoption of technology. Let me share with you a few of the WSH Council’s initiatives to incorporate technology into learning:
Incorporation of technology in training courses
5. First, we are working closely with SkillsFuture Singapore to institutionalise the adoption of technology into WSH training. Some of you recently participated in SkillsFuture Singapore’s Call for Proposal exercise. You would have noted that one of the entry criteria was the adoption of technology in the courses to be offered. I urge training providers to break out of the traditional training methodology if you have not already done so, and use technology more pervasively to innovate the learning process. Today, we are happy to have our training partner from the Institute of Adult Learning share with us how learning can be presented in different ways, with the use of technology, to help workers enjoy and learn in a more meaningful way.
6. Second, the WSH Council is working to develop a digital micro-learning library. Micro-learning refers to bite-sized educational content that can be delivered online, to fit into a daily routines and workflow and can be accessed on any device anywhere and anytime.
7. The library aims to supplement classroom training with awareness on more updated info, such as learning points from recent accidents or new risk scenarios that we come across. The WSH Council will share more details on the library in due course.
Experiential Learning Stations
8. Last but not the least, the WSH Council is also working with training providers offering the mandatory “Apply WSH at Construction Sites” course to include experiential learning stations. This was announced pre-COVID, and I’m happy that now we can see it take fruit.
9. Based on a research study conducted by the WSH Institute in 2019, majority of the victims in construction accidents were mainly inexperienced workers who had worked in Singapore for a period shorter than three years. Some of the new migrant workers come from rural areas, and when placed in an urban work environment, they undergo a life-changing experience and may be oblivious to worksite hazards.
10. As part of the new course curriculum requirement, experiential learning will become mandatory for all new construction workers and existing workers who fail their Recertification tests from November 2022 onwards. The intent is to better acquaint and familiarise these workers with the common hazards in a typical construction worksite. Learners will have the opportunity to personally experience simulated workplace “accidents” conducted under a safer “work” environment. Such training will stick better than classroom knowledge alone, and would help heighten a worker’s WSH awareness and encourage him or her to be more proactive and vigilant in WSH.
Mental well-being is now at the forefront
11. COVID-19 has driven home the message that it is important to safeguard not only the safety of our workers, but their health as well. That is why in November 2021, the WSH Council launched the latest revision of the Risk Management Code of Practice (RMCP) to include issues like infectious disease outbreaks, employees’ health including their mental well-being, and terrorist threats.
12. The expanded scope in the RMCP means that companies are now expected to adopt a more holistic approach to risk management, which includes risk factors such as psychosocial hazards, employee health conditions, terrorism threats, and more importantly, to implement the relevant control measures to eliminate or mitigate such risks.
13. This is why WSH Council makes it a requirement for all bizSAFE training providers to update their training content to cover these elements, like mental well-being and infectious disease control, which are now expected to be considered as part of the larger risk assessments. As our understanding of workplace hazards evolve, the training landscape must also be dynamic and adjust to what and how we teach, accordingly.
14. On this note, I wish everyone a fruitful forum ahead and hope you will bring back key takeaways. Let us all work towards a safer and healthier workplace. Thank you.