28 Jul 2022
Welcome Address by Mr John Ng,
Chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health Council,
at the Workplace Safety and Health Awards 2022
on Wednesday, 27 July 2022, 2.30pm at
Resorts World Sentosa, Compass Ballroom
Dr Tan See Leng, Minister for Manpower,
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower,
Members of the WSH Council,
Tripartite partners, award recipients,
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us here at the WSH Awards 2022. Seeing everyone gathered here today is especially meaningful as this marks the first time in two years that the WSH Awards ceremony is being held physically.
Workplace Safety and Health is More Vital than Ever
2. As we pay tribute to the exemplary companies and individuals committed to workplace safety and health (WSH), we need to spread the word that more can be done to improve WSH performance. There have been 31 workplace fatalities to date this year. Sadly, this is the highest number of fatalities since 2016 for the same period. Despite this, it is heartening to know that there are many companies out there that are doing their best to:
a. Foster WSH ownership across all levels, where both management and workers are dedicated to improve WSH;
b. Embrace technology to reduce hazards at the workplace; and
c. Promote workplace health to protect their workers while improving their work efficiency.
Such companies embrace the principle that good WSH leads to good business. They go the extra mile to not only inculcate these good WSH practices at their own companies, but also those around them, like their suppliers and contractors.
Celebrating the Best
3. We want to celebrate these good practices at today’s ceremony. This year, we received a total of 443 applications, with twice as many new applications as compared to last year. I am also glad to see greater participation from companies in the low-risk industries, such as finance and insurance as well as hospitality and entertainment; almost double compared to what we saw last year.
4. I am delighted seeing the response to the Awards. This is also after we tightened the criteria to be more stringent. Applicants are expected not just to have no fatalities or major injuries, but must also elaborate how a strong WSH culture is embedded in their business processes, for their good safety track record to be sustainable into the future.
5. So for instance, applicants for the WSH Developer Award must show that they have implemented Design for Safety to identify and reduce safety and health risks upfront in the conceptual design phase. Applicants for the WSH Performance Awards and the Safety and Health Award Recognition for Projects (SHARP) must demonstrate clearly how they have:
a. Encouraged their sub-contractors to take greater WSH ownership;
b. Implemented holistic WSH management systems that integrates work, safety and health; and
c. Transformed WSH practices or solved WSH challenges through the use of technology.
Going the Extra Mile to Keep Workers Safe and Healthy
Plant General Services
6. One such company is Plant General Services (PGS). As a recipient of the WSH Performance (Excellence) Awards, PGS has displayed considerable efforts in going the extra mile to protect not only their own workers’ safety and health, but also that of their vendors and suppliers, engaging only those who share similar high safety standards. PGS has also taken proactive steps to compile a set of behaviour-based safety observations and produce a safety handbook issued to supervisors to aid them in their toolbox meetings and safety briefings.
7. PGS subscribes to the belief that a safe workplace will lead to fewer injuries, which then leads to better health for employees, thus increasing productivity at work. For example, in providing scaffolding, insulation, and refractory services, majority of PGS employees are regularly exposed to noise. To prevent noise induced deafness, the company sources for good hearing protectors that are also comfortable and practical for use on site. In addition, PGS carries out annual audiometric tests to monitor their hearing, and those found with hearing abnormalities would be counselled on hearing protection and issued with hearing conservation stickers, which would be pasted on their safety helmet and company pass as a form of identification that they are not allowed to be assigned to high noise areas.
8. During the pandemic, PGS also focused on their workers’ mental well-being. An ‘open-door’ concept was developed for employees to approach their management staff or HSSE personnel, to share their troubles at any time, on and off site. These HSSE personnel are trained and equipped with the proper skills to advise affected employees, or to approach colleagues in need. PGS has done well in adopting a holistic approach towards enhancing their workers’ safety and health, and I congratulate them on their achievements today.
9. In a short while, Minister Tan will cite several other Award recipients that are paving the way for their peers in their pursuit of WSH excellence. In the meantime, I congratulate all the 235 award winners for their well-deserved accolades.
10. As we celebrate these accomplishments, let us not lose sight of our WSH 2028 vision to develop a healthy workforce in safe workplaces, and to be a country renowned for its best practices in workplace safety and health. Today’s winners have shown us that it can be done. Let us be inspired by their achievements and work towards greater heights. Thank you.