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Speech by Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, at World Congress on Risk in Singapore

GOH KEYNOTE SPEECH BY MR HAWAZI DAIPI, SENIOR PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR EDUCATION AND MANPOWER

AT WORLD CONGRESS ON RISK IN SINGAPORE

ON 20 JULY 2015, 11.30AM

Professor Ortwin Renn, Chair of the Executive Organising Committee

Dr Jukka Takala, Co-chair of the Executive Organising Committee

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Introduction

A warm welcome to all of you, especially to our international friends.  

2       Today’s event is well-attended with some 300 participants; comprising risk professionals, risk analysts, risk managers, policy and decision-makers. Congratulations to the organising team and to Prof Renn and Dr Takala for leading the effort.

WSH Risks Need to be Identified and Managed for Business Sustainability

3       The theme of this Congress is ‘Risk Analysis for Sustainable Innovation’. Risk management, which covers a full spectrum of activities such as risk identification, evaluation, control and risk communication is a key and fundamental activity across many fields and business genres.  Let me share my views on workplace safety and health (WSH) risks which ought to be considered as a basic organisational risk for all companies.

4       The impact of poor management of WSH risks on businesses and individuals is tremendous and costly. For the business, it may affect profits, reputation, goodwill and even existence.  For the worker, it may mean early death, living with a permanent disability or ill-health. Good management of WSH risks is therefore crucial.  

5       International Labour Organisation or ILO[1] estimated that every year, 2.3 million people die from work-related accidents and diseases. More than 160 million people suffer from occupational and work-related diseases. And there are 313 million non-fatal accidents.

6       In Singapore, the WSH Institute has estimated that the economic cost of work-related injury and ill-health is equivalent to 3.2 % of our GDP in 2011, which is about S$10.45 billion. These are indeed huge costs and loss to the economy.

7       Companies therefore need to address WSH risks and place it high on their priority along with other enterprise risks such as security risk and financial risk. Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in particular deserve more attention and deserved to be placed in higher priority.  A WSH Institute study in 2014 found that one in three of the SME business leaders were unaware of the WSH risks in their own companies, and therefore lacked the motivation to take action to improve WSH practices. Hence, more needs to be done to garner the buy-in and support from business leaders.

Everyone Has a Role in Management of WSH Risks

8       In Singapore, we have embarked on a series of initiatives to promote the management in WSH risks. Firstly, risk management is incorporated as a cornerstone of the revised WSH framework. Under the WSH (Risk Management) Regulations, workplaces are required to conduct risk assessments of work activities; control and monitor the risks of work activities and to communicate the risks to all stakeholders. Regular risk assessments to identify the source of risks are also required to be done, and companies have to take reasonable steps to eliminate or minimise the risks identified.

9       Secondly, to shift the focus from a compliance mindset to preventive mindset, we have launched the Vision Zero movement at the National WSH Campaign this year. Vision Zero is having a belief that all injuries and ill health due to work can be prevented. Vision Zero calls for a paradigm shift at every level of an organisation, from one of fault finding, to one that focuses on finding solutions to prevent injuries and ill-health. This can only be achieved with every stakeholder’s commitment and cooperation.

10     Thirdly, we have introduced Total WSH, which calls for a holistic system and a multi-disciplinary approach to managing WSH risks. Launched in 2014, this approach recognises the inter-relationship between work, safety and personal health.  It requires the demonstration of personal leadership and ownership from all levels within the organisation, and understanding of the benefits from good management of workplace and personal health risks.  For employees, they will enjoy enhanced work-ability, improved personal health and well-being.  For employers, they will benefit from being recognised as an employer of choice, attracting and retaining engaged and productive employees.

11     Programmes are also available to assist companies directly.  Through the Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAV), the WSH Council has raised the WSH awareness and capabilities of more than 6000 SMEs.  The bizSAFE programme which is an enabler for companies to build WSH risk management capability has successfully helped more than 19,000 companies. To ensure that individuals have adequate competencies to manage WSH risks, there are 34 WSH courses to date under the WSH Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) framework.  To be effective in managing WSH risks in Singapore, we recognise that everyone within the value chain needs to play an active role in creating safer and healthier workplaces.

Taking Action Today

12     So, what can you do to manage WSH risk?  For companies that are new or in the initial stages of WSH, we want to invite you to participate in the bizSAFE programme and be part of the bizSAFE community. If you need help to get started, call the SCAV.  For those who wish to build or improve your WSH culture, you can use WSH Council’s CultureSAFE diagnostic tool.

13     If you are a Risk Manager, include WSH risks into your enterprise risk register and monitor the company’s WSH performance, similar to how you monitor financial risks. For senior management of companies, they should see WSH as an enabler to improve productivity, teamwork, worker engagement; so that their company will be an employer of choice.

14     For everyone, please have a Vision Zero mindset, a preventive mindset and not a compliance one.  Our families and loved ones expect all of us to come home safe and sound; that our work would not cause harm to us today or 30-40 years later.  Our work should also not cause us to prematurely exit from the workforce.

15     Start by asking yourself - what you would personally do to make your workplace safer and healthier, what you can do to make it happen for other workplaces?  Also cascade that thinking within your circle of influence.

16     On that note, ladies and gentlemen, I wish you a safe, fruitful and engaging Congress. Thank you.



[1] Safety and health at work. (n.d.). In International Labour Organization. Retrieved from http://www.ilo.org/global/topics/safety-and-health-at-work/lang--en/index.htm

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