The Workplace Safety and Health Act
The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act will cover all workplaces from September 2011 in final phase of 3-phase implementation to reform the Factories Act 1973 in regulating occupational safety and health in Singapore. Under this Act of the new WSH Framework, employers must manage risks at work while employees must adhere to safe work practices.
1. Move towards a Performance-based regime
- Assigns legal responsibility to individuals who create and have control and management over safety and health risks
- Imposes a general duty to take reasonably practicable measures to protect persons at work
2. Reduce risks at source through Risk Assessment
3. Promote industry ownership
- Better defined Liability Regime
- Strengthened Personal Liability
4. Higher penalties
- To reflect the cost of accidents and poor safety management
- To deal with systematic weaknesses
Risk Assessment is an integral part of Risk Management. It is the process of evaluating the probability and consequences of injury or illness arising from exposure to an identified hazard, and determining the appropriate measures for risk control.
In the new framework, one of the major means of reducing risks at the workplace is by making stakeholders accountable in managing the risks they create. Who are the stakeholders?
- Manufacturer or Supplier
- Erector or Installer
- Worker – including industrial attachment student
- Self-employed Person
To bring about a strong safety culture in the changing of mindset and behaviour, commitment of top management is critical:
- Providing & maintaining safe work environment
- Ensuring adequate safety measures are taken at work
- Ensuring persons are not exposed to hazards arising from the workplace or areas under the employer’s control
- Developing and implementing emergency procedure
- Providing adequate instructions, information, training and supervising to employee
- Ensuring employees are competent to carry out tasks and not causing danger to safety and health of others
Hence, Risk Management (RM) as an important instrument in improving workplace safety and health:
Step 1 - Hazard identification
Step 2 - Risk Evaluation
Step 3 - Risk Control
Objectives and Benefits
Accidents are costly, often resulting in human suffering as well as losses to companies that include loss of production time, costs of repairing damaged equipment and poor staff morale. A proactive endeavour in managing workplace safety and health is more desirable as it is effective in reducing risks, preventing accidents and eliminating unsafe work conditions.
Companies that take greater ownership of safety outcomes and actively involve themselves in setting safety, standards will reap the benefits of lower accident rates, higher productivity, better staff morale and corporate image. The key to determining, this is having effective risk management in the workplace.
Competency through training
For effective risk management, companies need to raise WSH competency through training and improving awareness through effective dissemination and communication of work-related risks and WSH matters. To assist companies integrating WSH as part of business, the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) have rolled out programmes to help companies build WSH capabilities. The bizSAFE programme and Risk Management Assistance Fund (RMAF) are two such key programmes to help companies.
Capability Building -
A 5-step programme developed by Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC):
- Level 1 – status valid for 0.5 year upon date of approval
- Level 2 – status valid for 1 year upon the date of approval
- Level 3 – status valid for 3 years upon the date of approval
- Level 4 – status valid for 3 years upon the date of approval
- Level 5* – status valid for 3 years upon the date of approval
Designed to assist SMEs build up their WSH capabilities to achieve significant improvements in safety and health standards at their workplaces.
A journey, starting from:
- Top management demonstrating their commitment towards WSH to
- Acquiring risk management capabilities and implementing a Workplace Safety and Health Management System
Help SMEs gain recognition and privileges for their WSH efforts:
- Able to display bizSAFE logo on company letterhead, name cards, etc., to showcase commitment
- Business privileges and advantages offered by bizSAFE partners, eg financial institutions and insurers
WSHC reserves the right to suspend or revoke a participating company or organisation’s bizSAFE status in the event of any serious accident which includes but not limited to:
- Accidents resulting in permanent disabilities
- Dangerous occurrence
- Any other accidents deemed serious by WSHC
During the suspension period, the company’s information will be removed from the bizSAFE website. The use of the bizSAFE logo will not be allowed for distribution on all company collaterals.