08 Jul 2020
Opening Address by Mr John Ng, Chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health Council at the ‘Singapore Petrochemical Complex Health, Safety and Environment Campaign’ on Wednesday, 8 July 2020, 10.20am
Mr Tokumoto Kazuya, Managing Director, Denka Singapore Pte Ltd,
Mr Jacobus Hartato, Managing Director, Ethoxylates Manufacturing Pte Ltd,
Mr Aswadi, General Secretary, United Workers of Petroleum Industry,
Managing Directors and CEOs of the Complex Companies,
Distinguished viewers, ladies and gentlemen,
1. Good morning. It is my pleasure to join you at the Singapore Petrochemical Complex (SPC)’s “Complex Health, Safety & Environmental (HSE) Campaign 2020”. These are trying times, and even though we may have transited to Phase 2 of the reopening, there are many uncertainties. However, one thing remains constant: the need to be safe and healthy. Earlier last month when the circuit breaker ended, we had two fatal accidents; one involving a worker being caught between a forklift and a lorry door, and another involving a worker falling from height at the workplace. These unfortunate incidents could totally have been prevented.
2. As companies resume operations and catch up with the delays due to the pandemic, it is important that workplace safety and health measures are put in place to protect our workers from harm. Safety and health must take priority and employers need to take time to take care of your worker’s health and safety. Before commencing any operations, employers must make sure that the proper risk assessments are conducted, safe work procedures are established, and that your workers are adequately trained and briefed. It is also important to ensure all machinery, equipment and tools have undergone routine maintenance, and are in good working condition.
Health is the Greatest Wealth
3. The theme for your HSE campaign this year is ‘Health is the Greatest Wealth’. The silver lining of this pandemic is that it has raised the importance of health and safety to a level never seen before in recent history. Every day, we are reminded to wear a mask, take our temperature, practice good personal hygiene and keep the 1m safe distancing.
4. To better safeguard the health of our workers as we battle COVID-19, the tripartite partners, comprising the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation, had issued an advisory to guide companies on how to integrate Safe Management Measures (SMM) into company operations. It underscores the importance that beyond individual responsibility, employers too have an important role to play to eliminate and minimise the risk of re-emergence of Covid-19 clusters at our workplaces.
5. I am pleased to note that SPC has placed the Safe Management Measures as a priority. Companies in the complex have adopted staggered working hours as well as split team arrangements. You have implemented SafeEntry digital check-in/check-out system, and encouraged employees and contractors to download the TraceTogether app. I am also heartened to learn that all of you have appointed Safe Management Officers and they have been conducting weekly inspections to monitor and implement these safe management measures. I would like to commend you all for doing your part in the nation’s fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Working from Home
6. In a process plant, you need to have a minimum safe manning level but I am heartened that you have also allowed employees to work from home whenever possible. Even though our workers may not physically present at work, their health and safety are equally important to us. Do encourage each other to adopt a healthy lifestyle: exercise regularly, eat healthily, stay hydrated, and have sufficient rest.
7. Aside from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we must remember to set some boundaries for ourselves by clearly defining working and resting hours. It may not be easy to draw the line between work and rest when at home, but this is an important aspect towards maintaining good mental health. On the same note, do stay in touch with one another. Skype or Zoom is not just for work purposes, but can also be used to connect with our family members and close friends. Even a simple Whatsapp message “How are you doing?” can go a long way in caring for one another. While we are at it, may I suggest adding into the Whatsapp message “Take Time to Take Care” to your friends.
National WSH Campaign Quiz
8. Next, I have also heard that most of you have tried the persona quiz that the WSH Council developed in April at the National WSH Campaign. For those who are unaware, this fun and interactive quiz will assign you a persona, based on your work habits, and will show what kind of worker you are, and what possible aspects of health you could be neglecting that could lead to injuries at work. I took the quiz earlier in April at the National WSH Campaign, and my persona was the ‘Raisin’. If you have the same persona as me, it means that we haven’t been drinking enough water and should keep hydrated by drinking seven to eight cups of water a day. I highly encourage everyone to take this quiz to know where you stand, how healthy you are, and how to improve your own health.
9. Once again, I urge you all to take time to take care of your own safety and health. As we work towards gradual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must not forget to prioritise workplace safety and health in our daily operations and adhere to the SMM implemented at the workplace.
10. I wish you all a successful HSE campaign ahead. Continue to stay safe and keep well! Together we can overcome the Covid-19!