Opening speech by Prof. Chan Eng Soon, Chairman, WSH (Marine Industries) Committee, at the Webinar on “Overview to Total WSH”
17 Dec 2020
Mr Simon Kuik, President, Association of Singapore Marine Industries,
Mr Alex Teo, Chairman, Workplace Safety and Health Committee, Association of Singapore Marine Industries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Thank you for inviting me to the “Overview to Total Workplace Safety and Health” webinar. It is my pleasure and honour to be here. I am glad to see the marine industries taking the initiative to improve the safety and health of our workers through events such as this one.
2. Today’s webinar is the first virtual event that is co-organised by ASMI and the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council. I am heartened to see the turnout today and your presence speaks volume on your commitment to improve every worker’s safety and health.
3. As you may be aware, there had been a spate of fatal incidents recently. One of the fatalities was from the marine industries, where a worker, who was being tasked to perform arc welding on a pipe, was found unconscious. He was conveyed to hospital, where he was subsequently pronounced dead. Based on preliminary findings, it appeared that this fatal incident could have been avoided if proper WSH measures were taken and adequate risk assessments were conducted to eliminate the risk.
4. We must remain vigilant and do our part in maintaining a safe workplace so that we and our colleagues can go home safe and healthy at the end of each work day. Earlier this week, the WSH Council, together with its tripartite partners, namely the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation, have called upon industries across Singapore to conduct a Safety Time-Out (STO). The aim is to take a step back, take stock and review our activities and safety protocols to ensure safe operations. I would like to commend ASMI, as it is one of the many associations that has pledged their support towards this nation-wide STO. I would like to echo their call upon the marine industries to take part in this exercise as soon as possible, before 23 December 2020 when the festive season kicks in.
Introduction to Total WSH
5. In addition, it was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this week that Singapore will be entering Phase 3 on 28 December 2020. This is possible only with our collective efforts in maintaining adequate Safe Management Measures (SMM) at our workplaces. However, we must not let our guard down and we should continue to enforce proper SMM at our workplaces, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over just yet.
6. If there is one lesson that we can glean from this pandemic, it is that there exist a delicate relationship between our work environment and overall health, safety and wellbeing of our employees. Any compromise on either facet can severely affect companies. For example, if a worker is ill due to chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it would be difficult for them to perform any work task especially in safety critical jobs.
7. Which is why we strongly encourage companies to adopt the Total WSH approach. This is an integrated approach towards managing safety, health and wellbeing at the workplace. For example, workers can do their part in leading a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating healthily. At the same time, companies can encourage this behaviour either through health programmes or incentives. This can lead to an overall healthier workforce that is less likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, and can result in improved productivity, work performance, reduction in sickness absence etc.
8. Today’s webinar would feature speakers who would share more on Total WSH, as well as some examples of how your company can embark on the Total WSH journey. I hope that today’s webinar would inspire you to embrace Total WSH at your workplaces. Let’s all work together to create an even safer and healthier workplace for all.
9. On this note, I would like to thank all speakers for your time and effort for making this webinar a success. Wishing all a fruitful webinar today. Thank you.