Closing Speech by Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman of WSH Council at bizSAFE Convention 2014, Max Atria @ Singapore Expo on 28 February 2014, 11.15 am
Winners of the bizSAFE Awards,
Members of the Workplace Safety and Health Council and Committees, Industry Partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the WSH Council, thank you for joining us today. I hope you have found this morning’s session useful. Congratulations again to all the bizSAFE award winners this year. I hope you will continue to be role models of safety and health to other enterprises, and work towards achieving even higher WSH performance and standards.
2 The theme for this year’s bizSAFE convention is “Being Safe and Healthy”. It is important that we adopt an all-encompassing approach and incorporate both safety and health in the workplace. This will help us to better manage WSH risks at all levels, and ensure our workers stay healthy and productive. Let me summarise the key points from this morning.
Why safety and health makes good business sense
3 First, safety and health are essential components for any business looking to achieve success and sustainability. As businesses, we know that good WSH standards are expected, not only by our employees and the community around us, but also by our business partners and clients. For example, many public sector agencies and bizSAFE Partners are already committed to include bizSAFE Level 3, or an equivalent recognition, as a criterion in their procurement for building and infrastructure projects. They want to work with contractors, suppliers and vendors with good WSH standards. To have bizSAFE certification is a guide to good WSH standards.
4 Second, implementing effective risk management is the cornerstone of a successful and sustainable business. Many companies realise that WSH risks are part of that enterprise risk. Since the start of this year, we have seen 12 workplace fatalities, which could have been prevented with effective risk management. This is where the bizSAFE programme can help better manage risks to improve the work environment. By joining the bizSAFE programme, we learn how to build risk assessment and management capabilities, and implement an effective WSH management system. Participating companies can also tap on the expertise of bizSAFE Mentors to learn best practices.
5 Third, it is important that we continue to strengthen training and raise capabilities in WSH. Safety and health training can help prevent workplace illnesses and injuries. Training also enhances business productivity as it better prevents the loss in work-hours arising from workplace incidents, and in the longer term the pernicious effects of poor workplace health. In this regard, the Council has been working with the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to build WSH competencies via bizSAFE training under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications framework for Generic Manufacturing Skills (or in short, GMS WSQ). To date, more than 12,000 employees have been trained under bizSAFE Level 2 and 4 courses, since the start of this collaboration between our organisations.
Cultivating a robust WSH Culture
6 Fourth, beyond WSH infrastructure and competency, companies would also benefit from cultivating the right WSH mindsets and attitudes in their management and workers. A sustainable and profitable business has its basis in a pervasive and progressive WSH culture. Leaders who integrate WSH performance as a key business objective, and who communicate this vision throughout their organisation, signal their commitment to the value of health and safety, and their concern for their workers’ well-being. Hence, the bizSAFE journey does not end, even with attaining a bizSAFE STAR. Achieving bizSAFE STAR means having a WSH management system in place, but the management system alone cannot ensure the sustainability of the safe and healthy work environment that businesses desire. To progress in the WSH journey, we need to establish and maintain a strong WSH culture.
7 Building a progressive and pervasive WSH culture involves commitment from everyone - top management and every employee in the company. It is challenging but also rewarding, and we must take the time and effort to instil WSH as a personal and collective responsibility of each and every person at work. With this in mind, we launched the CultureSAFE programme in September 2012 to help companies who aspire for all their employees to have a “safety and health-first” mindset.
8 We understand it may be challenging for some companies, particularly those who may lack adequate resources, to embark on the WSH culture journey. Hence, the Council further introduced the WSH Culture Fund to help SMEs defray the costs associated with embarking on the CultureSAFE programme. SMEs can tap on the CultureSAFE Fund and claim up to 90% of the associated costs, up to a maximum of $30,000 for the whole programme. K.S. Services is an example of a company which has embarked on CultureSAFE with the help of the Culture Fund. They will be sharing more about their experience of the programme and how it has helped their business later this afternoon.
9 I hope we all here will share a common mindset - that WSH is not a cost but a worthwhile investment in our business. Ensuring our workers are kept safe and healthy is the right thing to do and also leads to greater productivity and sustainability of our business.
10 For those new to this, you have heard from the award winners on how bizSAFE has helped their companies improve both their WSH capabilities and business. I strongly urge you to embrace this and start with bizSAFE.
11 Thank you for joining us today and I wish all a pleasant afternoon and a safe and healthy year ahead.