15 Sep 2022
OPENING REMARKS BY MR SILAS SNG, COMMISSIONER FOR WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH, MINISTRY OF MANPOWER, AT THE ASIA PACIFIC OHS TRAINING CONVENTION 2022 ON 15 SEPTEMBER 2022 @ 9:00 AM
President, Singapore Institution of Safety Officers,
Partners from National Trades Union Congress, e2i, and
Institute for Adult Learning Singapore,
Workplace Safety and Health Adult Educators and Trainers,
Ladies and gentlemen.
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to speak at the Asia Pacific OHS Training Convention. I would like to thank the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (SISO) and supporting partners for organising this convention. It is indeed a useful platform for various stakeholders to showcase and share their experiences in making WSH training more effective, relevant, and accessible to our workers.
2. The theme this year is “Charting a Resilient Training Landscape for a Future-Ready Workforce”. Resiliency refers to the capacity to recover quickly from some difficulties. The past two and a half year of challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly stretched many companies including our training providers to its limit. But I’m glad that the industry has largely recovered and resumed business as usual.
3. In my mind, a resilient training landscape incorporates the following four elements:
a) An updated and interesting course curriculum and contents;
b) An effective training pedagogy supplemented with a variety of training platforms;
c) A pool of competent and passionate trainers/ adult educators; and
d) Strong governance and a good management system.
4. To incorporate all these elements effectively requires significant effort on the part of the training providers. So whilst we help to build WSH capability for the industry and workforce, we too must continuously upgrade, innovate and stay nimble so that we too are future-ready.
Spate of accidents; “Heightened Safety” period
5. However, in our bid to recover “lost time” due to the pandemic, we must not neglect workplace safety and health (WSH). The recent spate of accidents is a grim reminder of this. To date this year, we have 37 workplace fatalities, which is sadly on par with that for the whole of 2021. This is tragic and unacceptable. At the start of this month, the Ministry of Manpower introduced a slate of new measures to strengthen WSH and improve WSH oversight. These new measures and a state of “Heightened Safety” for the next six months are necessary to stem the rise in workplace fatalities this year.
6. Everyone has a part to play to make sure every worker goes home safe and healthy. As Training Providers and Trainers, you play a vital role to build WSH capability within companies and among workers. You can make a difference to the worker’s life if he learns something that sticks with him especially when he subsequently faces a life and death decision he has to make during work. WSH training is no longer a downloading of do’s and don’ts but can be made interesting with sharing of real-life, and practical experiences. Many of us would probably recall some words of wisdom that our former teachers have imparted to us. More so in WSH training where such wisdom determines whether he lives, injured or died as he works.
7. MOM and the WSH Council will continue to work with industries and partners to strengthen WSH training and building capability as this is a fundamental pillar in reaching our WSH 2028 goals.
The use of technology in training and assessment
8. One way to strengthen WSH Training is the use of technology. At the onset of the pandemic, our Training Providers pivoted to online learning so that our workers’ training was not disrupted, even as physical interactions were limited. Since then, many Training Providers have adopted various technology platforms including virtual reality, augmented reality, or mixed reality, to create immersive learning experiences. These are useful for learners to experience real-world hazards without being subjected to corresponding safety risks.
9. Microlearning also supplements formal training sessions and allow learners to update themselves and acquire bite-sized learning contents as and when needed, to perform their work safely.
10. To help companies innovate and enhance their training, the Institute for Adult Learning, IAL’s InnovPlus Challenge calls on companies to develop an innovative, feasible and scalable prototype that advances continuing education and training practice and outcomes. Later, you will hear more about the winning project, GoSafeHome.me, which allows learners to experience workplace safety hazards through game-based learning.
Developments in WSH training landscape
11. I am also excited at the evolution of our WSH training landscape over the next few months. First, the WSH Council is working with SkillsFuture Singapore, the Singapore Accreditation Council and various industry partners to enhance the WSH training curriculum and delivery. Aligned to the WSH 2028 strategy to enhance focus on workplace health, Total WSH is now incorporated in the curricula of all WSH courses. Learners can now better appreciate the Total WSH approach, which marries safety, occupational health, as well as physical and mental well-being.
12. Second, training delivery has also been improved. From the fourth quarter in 2022, the “Apply WSH in Construction Sites” course will incorporate experiential learning. This allows inexperienced migrant workers to go through simulated workplace incidents in a safe and controlled environment, hence familiarising themselves with the common worksite hazards. For many, retention of learning through life experience, is much better than through classroom learning.
13. Lastly, the WSH Council is partnering NTUC to develop WSH microlearning for the industry, targeted to be launched in the first quarter of 2023. Workers will then be able to access relevant bite-sized learning contents anytime and anywhere on their mobile devices, to help them to perform their work safely. We will share more details about this in due course.
14. In conclusion, I would like to thank all of you, our key partners in WSH training, for your continued support to upskill our workforce and expand their capabilities to contribute towards WSH. I wish everyone a fruitful forum ahead and hope you will find the key takeaways useful. Do share them during your training for downstream application at the workplace. Thank you.