Government to invest $8m into workplace safety and health programme

SINGAPORE - To make Singapore one of the safest and healthiest places to work in the world, the Government has launched "CultureSAFE" - an initiative that works to create a culture that puts workers' safety first.

This was announced today by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in a speech made at Singapore Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Conference 2012.

He said since Singapore implemented the performance-based Workplace Safety and Health regime, there has been a steady decline in the workplace fatality rate - from 4.9 deaths per 100,000 employed persons in 2004 to 2.3 in 2011.

Singapore aims to further improve on this by achieving a workplace fatality rate of less than 1.8 by 2018.

However, to do so, the mindsets of Singapore employers must change from a reactive, "fix-it-and-repair" mentality, to a proactive and preventive approach to safety and occupational health, the Minister said.

In addition, the Government hopes that companies can become "progressive", in that they implement measures not merely to comply with the law, but to serve the needs of their staff.

To achieve this end, the CultureSAFE programme will co-fund up to $30,000 for interested SMEs to cover consultancy and implementation costs for their CultureSAFE journey.

The Government will be putting in $8 million to co-fund the programme over the next three years.

Tharman urged all business leaders, professionals, workers and government officials to join in the effort.

"Every worker must be able to trust the workplace and feel good about it; to build up their abilities over time; to remain employable as they grow older; and to enjoy retirement without work-related illnesses," he stressed.

Mr Tharman also highlighted that in economies like Singapore, where there is a permanent shortage of workers, companies now have a compelling reason to invest in such improvements.