Singapore committee unveils WSH strategy recommendations to improve OSH
A workplace safety and health (WSH) committee tasked with developing a 10-year plan to improve OSH standards in Singapore has outlined its preliminary proposals.
The WSH2028 Tripartite Strategy Committee (TSC), which was announced by the Ministry of Manpower earlier this year, announced its preliminary recommendations to improve workplace safety at the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health Conference on 29-30 August.
The TSC argued that greater transparency of businesses’ OSH performance would help firms decide who to procure services and products from. It has called on the ministry to harmonise the criteria used to monitor and disqualify contractors with poor OSH records from public sector procurement, arguing this would “level up WSH requirements consistently across the government”.
The committee has also called on the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, which works closely with the Ministry of Manpower and other government agencies, the tripartite partners, industry and professional associations, to develop a code of practice outlining company directors’ WSH duties.
Section 48 of Singapore’s WSH Act already assigns liabilities on board of directors for OSH lapses but the TSC says the code of practice would help to clarify how directors could fulfil their responsibilities and would provide greater accountability.
The committee also calls on the Ministry of Manpower to facilitate work injury insurance premium differentiation between good and bad companies by insurers, by making available past accident and claims records. The ministry, it adds, could also invest greater resources in the inspection of companies with poor performance. “Both of these moves will sharpen companies’ incentive to be good WSH performers, and spur poor WSH performers to do better,” it argues.
The TSC, which is due to finalise its 10-year strategy by February 2019, also proposes that the Ministry of Manpower should expand its list of 40 reportable occupational diseases and include those that can cause occupational cancer.
It adds that the ministry should also partner with institutes of higher learning to undertake research to help improve the detection of occupational diseases.
The executive summary notes that the prevalence of chronic diseases across the workforce is expected to increase due to the ageing population and sedentary work and calls on government agencies to provide more support to companies to adopt general health promotion initiatives.
It also recommends setting up a centre of innovation and technology (CIT) to help promote the development of technology-based solutions for OSH.
Singapore’s current workplace fatal injury rate is 1.2 per 100,000 employed persons but one of the strategy’s aims is to achieve a fatality rate of less than 1 per 100,000 employed persons by 2028.
Nick Warburton is deputy editor of IOSH Magazine