19 May 2022
OPENING ADDRESS BY MR SILAS SNG,
COMMISSIONER FOR WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH; AND,
DIVISIONAL DIRECTOR, OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH DIVISION, MINISTRY OF MANPOWER,
FOR THE SAFETY TIME-OUT FORUM ON 19 MAY 2022
Welcome to the Safety Time-Out Forum, where you will learn more about recent accident cases and what you can do to prevent these safety lapses from happening at your workplace.
2. Over the past ten years, Singapore has made great progress in ensuring a safe workplace for our workers. The workplace fatality rate has fallen by more than half, from 2.3 in 2011 to 1.1 in 2021, and I thank the industry, companies, and workers for your commitment to workplace safety and health.
3. That said, we had a stormy start to 2022. As reported extensively in the media, since the start of the year till 6 May, there have been 20 workplace fatalities, higher than the number of deaths over the same period since 2016. Even more alarming is that 10 of these fatalities occurred in April alone.
4. In response to the tragic spate of accidents, the Ministry of Manpower, Workplace Safety and Health Council, and National Trades Union Congress partnered seven industry associations to call for a nation-wide Safety Time-Out, or STO in short. I was heartened when the Singapore National Employers Federation and eight more associations echoed our appeal and urged their member employers to prioritise workers’ safety and health. I encourage you to pause your work operations and review your processes to ensure that they are carried out safely. You can also take the time to learn from past accidents, and ensure that the same do not recur at your own workplace.
The STO Forum
5. To reinforce the learning from past accidents, you will hear brief preliminary findings from the fatal cases, so that you can prevent them from happening in your workplace. These accidents could have been easily prevented by adhering to WSH procedures.
6. This forum will also feature presentations on the safe use of forklifts and ladders, as well as good practices when working around fragile surfaces. This is because basic lapses in their use led a number of repeat cases. My sincere thanks to the Roofing Association Singapore, the Singapore Contractors Association Limited, and the Singapore Logistics Association for partnering us in organising this Forum.
7. We can, and need to, do better for 2022. All employers and employees need to play their part and take workplace safety and health seriously. Upkeeping WSH is an ongoing, continuous effort by all. Even as we get busier as more economic activities resume and work picks up, we must remember to take time to take care of safety and health at work.
8. Please keep safe and I hope you will find the sharing useful. Thank you.