Mr John Ng, Chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council
Ladies & Gentlemen
1. Good morning and welcome to the SCAL Construction Safety, Health and Security Seminar 2018. Thank you for taking time off to attend our annual seminar.
2. Improving workplace safety and health, or WSH remains a top priority for the construction sector. I am encouraged by the strong participation at today’s seminar and I hope you will benefit greatly from the presentations and case studies on the best WSH practices.
Safety performance in the construction sector
3. Over the past five years, the construction sector has made significant strides in improving WSH. The fatality rate has reduced from 7.2 per 100,000 workers in 2013 to 2.6 per 100,000 workers in 2017. Construction fatalities were also reduced to half from 24 in 2016 to 12 in 2017.
4. However, in the first five months of 2018, we already had six construction fatalities. It clearly shows that we must continually be on our toes and never let our guard down. SCAL is calling on all members and construction companies to take immediate and effective steps to review all safety measures at their worksites. With continuing concerted and collective effort, we must prevent any further incidents and fatalities from happening.
SCAL’s WSH Efforts
5. Over the past three years, SCAL’s WSH Sub-committee, chaired by Mr Lee Kay Chai has driven several initiatives in its workplan to enhance WSH for the sector.
6. The workplan covers three key areas: (1) role of top management in WSH, (2) training, and (3) adoption of advanced practices – with programmes to engage all levels of employees from top management to rank and file workers. The subcommittee has also set up workgroups to address specific WSH areas such as work at height, lifting operations, traffic management and vector control.
7. The main objective of the subcommittee is to take leadership to guide industry in implementing WSH practices at their workplaces. These include organising safety time-outs, CEO walkabouts, inter-site safety visits, and of course the Safety Promotion Month and today’s Safety Campaign Seminar.
8. One new initiative I am pleased to share with you today is that currently, a workgroup is drafting a guidebook on mozzie control at construction sites. To be published by end this year, the guidebook aims to provide step-by-step advice for planning, design, management and implementation of effective mosquito prevention at construction worksites. I am sure that all of us will benefit from this Mozzie Wipe-out Guidebook, so do look out for it.
9. I would like to commend and express our heartfelt appreciation to members of the subcommittee who volunteer their time for the industry, under the capable leadership of Kay Chai. We look forward to implementation of the new initiatives and urge members and construction firms to participate in the programmes and activities.
SCAL Safety Training School
10. Through our subsidiary SCAL Academy, SCAL has been providing safety training since 1986. To respond to evolving needs for more effective training programmes and curriculum, SCAL Academy will be setting up an expanded safety training school which will incorporate new modes of blended learning. These include experiential training, use of augmented and virtual reality, gaming and other simulation training tools.
11. In preparation for this, SCAL went on a study mission to South Korea last month to learn about their facilities, equipment and technologies. We aim to set up the expanded facilities and programmes by the end of this year.
SCAL WSH Awards
12. SCAL has been organising the SCAL WSH Awards over the past 14 years. The Awards recognises contractors who have been proactive and successful in promoting safe work practices at their work sites.
13. Today, I would like to take opportunity to express my warmest congratulations to all winners for the SCAL WSH Innovation Awards and the SCAL WSH Supervisor Awards 2018.
14. These companies and individuals have been dedicated in their efforts to ensure high standards for the safety and health of their workers. I hope all of you will be inspired by their professional efforts to enhance WSH within their organisation.
15. To conclude, I would like to once again urge all construction companies to take proactive steps, conduct thorough risk assessments and implement effective measures to keep all their worksites safe.
16. May I also take this opportunity to express my gratitude to our Guest-of-Honour Mr John Ng, Chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health Council for gracing today’s event. Special thanks also go to Singapore Polytechnic for sponsoring the event venue.
17. With that, I wish all participants an enriching and fruitful conference ahead.