Even though Singapore's workplace safety and health performance has improved in the past year - declining from 42 in the first half of 2016 to 19 in the first half of 2017, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say, warned against being complacent and taking workplace safety and health for granted.
Speaking at the annual Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Awards 2017, Minister Lim cited the recent PIE work site collapse as a wake-up call for all of us.
"The recent collapse of a viaduct section under construction near the PIE is a wake-up call for all of us - to never be complacent and take workplace safety and health for granted."
On the incident which claimed the life of a worker and left 10 others injured, Minister Lim commented: "Chen Yinchuan from China, came to Singapore just 3 months ago to work as a construction worker.
"It was his first time working in Singapore. He wanted to earn and save more for his 3-year old son. But instead, he lost his life here."
Of the 10 other workers who were injured in the same incident, three were from China, six were from Bangladesh, and one was from India.
Minister Lim added that among the six who are still in hospital, Gao Li Qin is fighting for his life, while two are still in the high dependency ward.
Minister Lim said: "The cause of the incident is still being investigated. But one thing for sure is that this is a man-made incident that could have been avoided, if everyone involved in this project had paid enough attention to the design and construction of the viaduct, and the safety of workers."
Emphasising the need to maintain the "heat" to ensure that everyone takes workplace safety and health seriously, Minister Lim added that we also need more companies to not just feel the 'heat' but more importantly, to also see the 'light' - to recognise that investment in workplace safety and health is good for both workers and the business.
A good way to ensure accidents will not happen is to study near misses.
"Some companies wait for an accident before taking action. They brush aside near misses as there were no injuries. They fail to realise that near misses are just as important.
"Studying near misses can help companies take pre-emptive action so that accidents will not happen," Minister Lim said.
Reiterating that everyone has a role in WSH, Minister Lim said: "We can only truly succeed in keeping all our workplaces safe and healthy for everyone, if we all play our part.
"Whether you are a business owner, developer, manager or supervisor, no contribution is too small. Everyone has a role to play in making workplaces safer and healthier."
In conclusion, he summarised some best practices from the award winners in three key learning points:
- Ownership: Every company and individual has a role to play.
- Partnership: Work with your vendors and contractors, to keep every worker in every workplace safe.
- Innovation: Go beyond the status quo and find ways to work safer and smarter.