25 Apr 2022
Opening Address by Mr John Ng,
Chairman, WSH Council at the
BCA Academy and IOSH Singapore WSH Conference 2022 on Monday, 25 April 2021 at 1pm
Architect Leong-Kok Su Ming, Managing Director of BCA Academy,
Mr. Jimmy Quinn, Immediate Past President of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health,
Mr Yam Ah Mee, Chairman of the WSH Council’s Construction and Landscape Committee,
Ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good afternoon. I am honoured to be here at this WSH Conference jointly organised by the BCA Academy, IOSH Singapore, and supported by the Ministry of Manpower and WSH Council.
2. I was informed that this is the 10th edition of the Conference. Let me congratulate the team for 10 years of dedicaton and continuous efforts in organising the Conference to enhance the WSH capabilities and practices of the industry.
3. The theme for this year is “In the Endemic World – Keeping our Workplaces Safe and Healthy”. It is an apt follow-up from last year’s Conference, where local and overseas speakers discussed how the construction industry can stay resilient and robust during the pandemic through strong leadership and use of technology.
WSH performance of the construction industry
4. Let me start by sharing with you the WSH performance of the construction industry. The industry’s WSH track record has improved significantly since the WSH Act was introduced; from a workplace fatality rate of 9.4 per 100,000 workers in 2006, to 3.3 last year. This shows the determination by BCA and industry players in creating a safe environment for construction workers.
5. However, construction remained the top contributing industry of fatal injuries with 13 cases, similar to the numbers recorded in 2019. We need to ramp up the WSH message to the industry to keep improving, even though I recognise it is challenging due to manpower constraints and tight timelines.
Importance of WSH in the endemic world
6. It was projected that 2022 will see a steady level of construction demand, primarily due to the backlog of work affected by the pandemic since 2020. Manpower demand will inevitably rise, and we can expect an increased inflow of migrant workers.
7. Additionally, it is important for us to maintain our vigilance as the risk of new COVID variants will always be present. With emerging variants of differing severity and transmissivity, prevention of such infectious diseases may sometimes become more challenging and requires us to evolve in this dynamic environment.
8. With the renewed focus on preventing infectious disease transmission at the workplace an integral part of WSH, the Government enacted the WSH (COVID-19 Safe Workplace) Regulations on 1st January this year to keep workplaces COVID-safe for our workers. So we must continue to be vigilant on both fronts; in workplace safety and workforce health.
Support from the WSH Council
9. Today’s programme covers various pertinent topics, one of which is technology. The national WSH 2028 Strategies were announced four years ago, and one of our goals is to develop a WSH technology ecosystem to deepen industry capability. Since then, many companies have taken on the task to incorporate technology into their work processes, which not only improves workplace safety but also helps boost productivity. I’m very heartened to see a number of them sharing their experiences with you today.
10. With climate change and rising temperatures accelerating global warming, another area of increasing concern is heat stress. It is especially important for our workers doing outdoor manual work to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from these heat-related risks. Two weeks ago, the WSH Council organised a symposium focused on managing heat stress at workplaces to raise awareness of the issue, and to encourage employers to take care of their workers during the typical hot months of April and May. You will hear more about heat stress later.
11. Another area of concern is the mental well-being of our workforce. With the dynamic operating environment, it is not enough to be physically healthy, but we must be mentally healthy as well. That is why the WSH Council launched our inaugural Workplace Mental Well-being Campaign in December last year to remind workers to take time to take care of their mental well-being, an essential component of one’s overall health that can impact work performance, and even safety.
12. In three days’ time on 28 April, we will celebrate the “World Day For Safety And Health At Work”. It is an annual international campaign observed by the International Labour Organization to promote the prevention of workplace accidents and diseases.
13. The WSH Council will be launching our annual National WSH Campaign on that day. We call upon employers and workers to reinforce their ownership of WSH and establish a culture of care for each other, because every worker has the right to and deserves a safe and healthy working environment. With a sustained and collective effort from all industry stakeholders, I’m confident we can make Singapore a country renowned for having a healthy workforce with safe workplaces.
14. Remember to “Take Time to Take Care” of your safety, health and well-being. I wish all of you a fruitful Conference. Thank you.