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Welcome Address by Executive Director, WSH Institute at the WSH Institute Forum themed 'The Next WSH Frontier' 11 Sept 2013 (Wed), 2.15pm, Furama City Centre Hotel, Grand Ballroom, Level 5

Welcome Address by Executive Director, WSH Institute

at the WSH Institute Forum themed ‘The Next WSH Frontier’

11 Sept 2013 (Wed), 2.15pm, Furama City Centre Hotel,

Grand Ballroom, Level 5

 

Mr Lee Tzu Yang, Chairman, Workplace Safety and Health (or WSH) Council,

Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, Deputy Chairman, WSH Council

Er. Ho Siong Hin, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, Ministry of Manpower

Members of the WSH Council and WSH Institute Governing Board

Distinguished speakers and guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

Good afternoon and welcome to Workplace Safety and Health Institute’s Forum on “The next WSH Frontier”, organised by the WSH Institute and supported by WSH Council and Ministry of Manpower.

 

2. We are privileged to have with us today, distinguished international experts in Occupational Safety and Health from Singapore, Europe, Canada and Australia to take part in this landmark Forum. This Forum will be one of the building blocks to help Singapore chart its way forward in WSH and I am glad to see an overwhelming attendance today, with a good mix of senior management of companies and safety professionals from various industries.

 

Background and impetus for shift into new WSH Frontier

 

3. The WSH Institute has just released the WSH Statistics for the half of 2013 last week. Although we saw slightly fewer workplace injuries and occupational diseases compared to the same period last year, there is still a long way for us to go before achieving world class standards in terms of WSH outcomes. Earlier this year the WSH Institute conducted a study to estimate the cost of work-related injuries and ill health in 2011 for Singapore workers, employers and the community. We estimated direct medical costs, productivity loss, human loss to society and potential future earnings foregone for the companies and workers concerned and this amounted to some SGD$10.5 billion or about 3.2% of Singapore's GDP. Costs borne by employers alone were around SGD$2.3 billion, with staff turnover, training and loss of worker output contributing to the bulk of the loss. Globally, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that work accidents and diseases yearly resulted in the loss of 4% of the annual global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

4. These figures are clear evidence that countries cannot afford to neglect safety and health as these undermine their ability to create a vibrant and secure economy that can generate good and safe jobs for their people. Businesses are also bearing hefty costs for poor safety performances. These findings present the business case. However, behind all these are the workers who suffered ill health, injuries and fatalities and their families who had suffered as a consequence. We should ask

ourselves how we can do better. What should be our underlying mental model? How can we make zero harm achievable in our organisations, in our community? Therefore, we need to look forward and define a new frontier, one that would take us beyond the current WSH 2018 national strategy.

 

Objective of the WSH Institute Forum

 

5. In today’s Forum we brought together international WSH thought leaders and experts to share their wisdom and views on the growing topic of interest - Vision Zero and how it can drive further improvements in WSH outcomes. From the experience, challenges and opportunities from countries which have already begun on this journey towards zero harm in workplaces, we hope to gain a better understanding and clarity of what Vision Zero is and what it can mean for Singapore as we look to embark on the next frontier towards WSH excellence. Towards the end of the program this afternoon, we will conduct a live poll with you on what ‘Vision Zero’ means to you. We strongly encourage you to participate in the panel discussion and poll, and welcome you to share valuable feedback that will help guide and shape the enhancements to the WSH landscape.

 

Concluding remarks

 

6. The Institute is honoured to have the WSH Council Chairman, Mr Lee Tzu Yang deliver the Opening Address. Our thanks also to Dr David Gold, our moderator of the panel discussion today and distinguished panellists and speakers for their support to this Forum - Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, Dr Walter Eichendorf, Mr Kevin Myers, Dr Janet Asherson, Mr Steve Horvath and Ms Michele Patterson. While each of us might hold different thoughts on how the new frontiers for WSH should be, I hope today’s Forum would facilitate the pollination of new ideas and insights to help each of us broaden our knowledge on the options for WSH that is ahead of us. Lastly, I wish you a fruitful and inspiring Forum ahead.

 

Thank you

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