10 Jun 2022
Opening Address by Mr Daniel T’ng, Chairman,
WSH Council (Facilities Management) Committee at the
WSH Webinar for Town Councils 2022 on
Friday, 10 June 2022, 2:30pm
Town Council management representatives,
Distinguished Speakers, Friends,
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. Good afternoon and welcome to the WSH Webinar for Town Councils, 2022. I’m glad to see many of you here showing your continued support. We continued this year’s engagement online, though Singapore steadily makes progress in the pandemic situation. I am confident that we will be able to organise an in-person session come 2023.
This afternoon, I have three (3) key points to share.
i. Recent spate of accidents; FM WSH performance
2. You would have read extensively in the news about the worrying spate of accidents. In April alone, there were 10 workplace fatalities. This prompted the Ministry of Manpower, WSH Council and National Trades Union Congress to call for a nation-wide Safety Time-out from 9 May. The Singapore National Employers Federation joined the call subsequently, urging their members to pause work temporarily to review their work processes. Collectively, we reached out to 15,000 companies from 12 associations.
3. Sadly, 6 more fatalities occurred in May, last month, taking the total workplace fatalities this year to 25 thus far; the highest number for the same period since 2016. A significant number of these fatalities were due to Fall From Height, Unsafe Use of Machinery and Slips, Trips and Falls. Preliminary findings suggest that the causes of these accidents were found to be due to basic safety lapses such as not wearing personal protective equipment.
4. The Facilities Management industry has also seen its fair share of injuries in the last few years, particularly in the areas of Fall From Height and Slips, Trips and Falls. From 2020 to 2021, non-fatal Fall From Height injuries increased by 21%, whereas non-fatal Slips, Trips, Falls injuries increased by 23%. This is a concern that we have to address.
ii. Inherent WSH Risks in Township Facilities Management Works
5. Town Councils employ a large number of workers who manage a wide range of facilities management works, both in-house and outsourced. It is, therefore, important and necessary to have a well-designed risk management process to mitigate risks at the workplace in order to keep our workers safe.
6. Today’s webinar will focus on two important workplace safety areas: (i) work at height risks, and (ii) Slip, Trip and Fall risks at the workplace.
(i) Work at Height Risks Ladder Safety
7. Ladders are one of the common and essential equipment that workers use in their course of Township maintenance work. Unsafe use of ladders and use of unsafe ladders can lead to accidents resulting in serious injuries or even death. I’m pleased to have the Ministry of Manpower sharing ways to prevent accidents on ladders, such as selecting appropriate ladders for the job, and how to use ladders properly and safely to prevent falling from height. A short video on ladder safety from the Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ & Manufacturers’ Association Limited (PASMA) will be shared in this webinar.
(ii) Slips, Trips and Falls Risks
8. Slips, Trips and Falls is the top contributor of all injuries not just for the FM industry, but across all industries. The WSH Council has developed collaterals and organised various events in this area. One such event is the STF Campaign last year, where one of the areas covered was having proper housekeeping and equipment such as non-slip safety shoes as the first line of defense.
9. Another angle that is worth exploring is the relationship between physical activity and STF prevention. Researchers have found that healthier and physically fit workers were less prone to STF injuries. With a better mental and physical state of mind, your awareness and reaction to situations will improve, potentially leading to lower risks of getting injured at work. I’m pleased to have Wong Fong Academy tpshare more on this later.
iii. Smart technology and robotics for safety and productivity
10. In line with the Industry 4.0 movement, automation, robotics, big data and the industrial Internet-Of-Things are set to transform the landscape of work. Though the term is more organically used in Manufacturing, we can see how automation and robotics can bring safety and productivity gains to other sectors like Facilities Management too.
11. By automating repetitive tasks, workers may be trained and assigned to higher-value duties. Removing the human factor from potentially hazardous tasks also means better safety outcomes. I’m delighted to have Mr Frank Ngoh, General Manager of Tampines Town Council, to share with us their experience with smart technology and having robot counterparts assist in township management.
12. In conclusion, I would like to thank our distinguished speakers who have taken time out of their busy schedules to share their knowledge with us today. I hope you take away the lessons from today’s sharing and implement them at your Town Councils. Let us continue in our efforts to prevent injuries at work so that we can all go home safe and healthy to our families.