The STAS-WSH Council Safety Forum 2023, held on September 7, 2023, marked a significant event in the realm of workplace safety in Singapore. Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor, Chairman of the WSH Council (National Work at Heights Safety) Taskforce, delivered the opening address, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between associations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in achieving a safer work environment. This journal write-up summarizes the key highlights and insights from Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor’s address.
Overview of Work at Heights Performance:
Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor began by highlighting the crucial role of working at heights in various industries such as construction, marine, and manufacturing. He stressed the need to raise awareness among SMEs about the inherent risks associated with this type of work. Falling from heights has been a significant cause of fatalities and major injuries in Singapore, and while there has been a decrease in fatalities in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, one fatality is still one too many.
Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor shared a tragic incident from April 2023 in which a worker lost his life due to a fall from a newly constructed lift shaft. This incident underscored the importance of proper safety measures and education for workers involved in work-at-height activities.
Furthermore, Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor highlighted the growing concern about fatalities in smaller-scale construction activities, such as Additions & Alterations, Renovation, and Facilities Management, indicating that the focus on safety should extend beyond large construction sites to encompass all types of workplaces.
SME WSH Packs:
To address the need for accessible safety resources for SMEs, Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor discussed the WSH Council’s initiative to develop SME WSH Packs. These packs provide concise guidance materials, checklists, posters, and stickers focused on common accident types and their preventive measures. The third SME WSH Pack, centered on Ladder Safety and Roofworks Safety, was announced during the forum, underscoring the importance of targeted safety guidance for specific workplace activities. These resources are available in multiple languages to ensure accessibility.
RAS Specialized Course:
Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor revisited the announcement made in 2020 regarding the Roofing Association Singapore (RAS) developing a specialized course for roofing specialists. He expressed his pleasure in hearing that the course is now open for registration. This course aims to equip professionals with the essential safety knowledge and skills required to perform their tasks safely and efficiently. The call to sign up for this course reflects the commitment to continuous training and education to ensure worker safety.
Post HSP and SAFE Measures:
Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor discussed the Heightened Safety Period (HSP) initiated by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in response to a surge in workplace accidents. During the HSP, the workplace fatality rate decreased significantly, demonstrating that concerted efforts can result in a safer work environment. Although the HSP has ended, new measures called SAFE measures have been implemented to sustain workplace safety improvements. One significant measure is the requirement for Video Surveillance Systems (VSS) at worksites where high-risk activities occur for construction projects valued at $5 million and above. This measure aims to enhance safety monitoring, reduce risky behaviors, and ultimately reduce fall-related injuries and fatalities.
In conclusion, Mr. Abu Bakar Mohd Nor’s opening address at the STAS-WSH Council Safety Forum 2023 emphasized the critical importance of workplace safety, particularly when working at heights. The event underscored the need for collaboration between associations, SMEs, and workers to create a safer work environment. Through initiatives like SME WSH Packs, specialized courses, and innovative measures like VSS, Singapore is taking significant steps towards achieving its WSH 2028 goals. The forum encouraged active participation, knowledge sharing, and collaboration to make a lasting impact on workplace safety in the country.