Singapore businesses lose almost a million productive work hours due to accidents and pay around $70 million in work injury compensation yearly.
This was revealed by Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, when he officially closed the second edition of the Singapore Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Conference 2012 yesterday.
In his speech, Mr Hazawi emphasised the importance of WSH, saying that reducing business downtime through proper WSH management is important not just to a company's productivity but also to a country's growth potential.
He called on business leaders and authorities to not only put in resources and efforts to establish systems and processes, but also to be there 'visibly' to guide their employees.
However, a progressive culture is also needed to attain sustainable progress in WSH.
"Systems, processes and measures can only work if there is support from all employees. Leaders of respective organisations will therefore need to influence organisational values and make WSH everyone's responsibility, down to the very last worker," said Mr Hazawi.
Professor Najmedin Meshkati, Professor of Civil/ Environmental/ Industrial and Systems Engineering, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California, said: "The volume of output, in this case the success of safety culture, is dependent on a chain consisting of three links - human, organisation and technology.
"The chain is only as strong as its weakest link so for safety culture to be embedded successfully, equal attention has to be placed on each element."
Beyond awareness and commitment, the WSH Council on Wednesday announced a new CultureSAFE programme, which will help companies assess areas where their safety culture could be improved so they can better nurture the safety behaviour of employees.
An $8-million CultureSafe Fund to help about 250 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) over three years was set up by the Government, to be administered by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council.
Mr Hazawi also noted that cost is not the only reason to prioritise safety and health.
"Every accident statistic is a human being who, like you and I, is working to carve out a better life for himself and his family. Behind each life lost is a family who grieves for the sudden loss of a loved one."