Skip to main content

Opening Speech by Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower at Major Hazard Installations Symposium 2016

OPENING SPEECH BY MR SAM TAN

MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER AT

THE MAJOR HAZARD INSTALLATIONS INSTALLATION ON 20 OCT 2016, 9.00AM AT JTC SUMMIT

Introduction 

1. Good morning and I am happy to join you at this Major Hazard Installations Symposium. It is indeed an important platform for industry experts and practitioners to come together to learn more about how to ensure workplace safety and health in the MHI industry.

Importance of WSH in the MHI Industry 

2. The chemical industry is a key pillar and one of the largest contributors to Singapore’s manufacturing output at about $80 billion, equivalent to almost 29% of the total manufacturing output in 20151. Today, Singapore is a global chemical hub with many world-class facilities set up on Jurong Island. You will not miss them when you are driving there. Many of these facilities handle large volumes of highly hazardous chemicals and they are termed Major Hazard Installations, or MHIs. Their operations are also highly complex and integrated. While the likelihood of a major MHI incident is generally low, the consequences can be catastrophic. Ensuring the safety of MHIs is therefore critical, both to our economy as well as the well-being of our workers and the public.

Recapping Changes to MHI Regulatory Framework 

3. We announced two significant changes to the regulatory framework for MHIs in March last year. One, the introduction of a Safety Case Regime. Under this regime, MHIs have to prepare Safety Cases consolidating all Safety, Health and Environment or SHE regulatory protocols and demonstrate to authorities that they have managed their SHE risks to as low as reasonably practicable.

4. Two, providing a single regulatory front to the MHIs for all SHE matters. This enhances coordination among the three regulatory agencies – MOM for workplace safety and health; NEA for environmental impacts and control of hazardous chemicals and SCDF for emergency preparedness, transport, storage and use of flammable substances.

Implementing Safety Case Regime in September 2017 

5. Over the last 18 months, the 3 agencies worked closely with the industry through the Safety Case Joint Government-Industry Work Group or JWG. Over 50 JWG meetings involving representatives from government agencies and the Singapore Chemical Industry Council were held to develop the Safety Case Technical Guide and Safety Case Assessment Guide. This is an important piece of work as it lays out the principles and approach to be used by MHIs in preparing their Safety Cases to meet the requirements of the Safety Case regime. I would like to take this opportunity to thank SCIC and our partner agencies for this collaborative effort.

6. With the Guides completed, I am pleased to announce that the Safety Case regime will take effect on 1 September 2017 through the WSH (MHI) Regulations. There are three key elements in the Regulations, developed in consultation with the industry. First, rather than stipulating an absolute standard, MHIs are required to show that adequate, effective and reliable control measures are in place to reduce risks of major accidents to ‘as low as reasonably practicable’ or ALARP.

7. Second, because MHIs are so integrated in their operations across different companies, MHIs will be obliged to share critical information on the nature and extent of risks on affected workplaces. For example, an MHI may need to share with its neighbours, the extent and severity of major accidents and their potential off-site risks. This ensures that neighbouring MHIs can put in place measures to protect their operations against potential domino effects resulting from these major accidents.

8. Third, MHIs will be required to notify and report process-related incidents. For example, leaks of dangerous substances from storage tanks or fires and explosions that cause property damage or injury. This will enhance safety standards through learning from past incidents and best practices in the industry.

MHD – A new single regulatory front for Safety Case Regime 

9. To implement the Safety Case Regime, a new inter-agency department, known as the Major Hazards Department, or MHD, was set up in MOM on 1 September 2016. MHD comprises officers from MOM, NEA and SCDF who will work hand-in-hand for Safety Case assessments, site verifications and incident investigations. MHD replaces the Safety and Risk Management Centre, or SRMC, as a coordinating centre for Quantitative Risk Assessment submissions.

10. Although MHD was officially formed only about a month ago, the officers have been undergoing Safety Case training since 2015. This included a rigorous 3-week practical attachment with UK’s Health & Safety Executive, as well as a one-week workshop in Singapore facilitated by HSE process safety specialists. They are preparing to receive the first safety case submission in March 2018.

Working with industry for smooth implementation 

11. The Safety Case Regime will only be successful if there is close partnership between the government and industry. We have received industry’s feedback on the challenges to implement the Safety Case in today’s competitive business climate. In particular, the need to build technical know-how of MHI personnel for this new regime.

12. This is an area where we want to need to work with the industry to address. I am very encouraged by the leadership commitment from over 80 companies at the MHI Leadership Forum in February 2016 to allocate resources in preparing and implementing Safety Cases for MHIs.

13. Arising from this commitment, a series of Safety Case Knowledge-Building workshops were organised with our key partner, SCIC, to equip the Safety Case Leads with the necessary knowledge and skills to implement Safety Case. Extending from this, a workshop on the Safety Case Assessment Guide will be conducted later this afternoon. These workshops help Safety Case Leads better understand the technical requirements as well as MHD’s expectations and approach in Safety Case assessments.

14. Safety Case clinics will also be organised starting November 2016, for MHIs to consult MHD when they encounter difficulties while preparing their Safety Cases. We want to support you to implement the Safety Case Regime successfully.

Building industry capabilities through WSHI-ICES Collaboration 

15. Beyond capabilities within the regulatory agencies, it is also important that the MHI industry has access to process safety-related technical and research expertise to improve capability in effecting the Safety Case regime. Hence, the Workplace Safety and Health Institute and Institute of Chemical & Engineering Sciences of A*Star will come together to cooperate in the areas of research, provision of technical advice, analytical testing services, training and outreach through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The WSH Institute and ICES will work with industry to undertake risk modelling and verification studies as well as support MHD in safety case verifications and process safety incident investigations.

16. I would like to encourage the MHI industry to leverage on these initiatives to enhance your process safety knowledge and be able to address safety challenges more effectively.

Conclusion 

17. Safety Case ownership must reside with MHIs, and we are working with the industry to enhance its Safety Case capabilities. All stakeholders, including regulatory agencies, have to play their part to uphold process safety and occupational safety alike. By working together we can reduce all forms of associated risks and take the industry to greater heights of WSH excellence.

18. I would like to thank all stakeholders and partners who have contributed to this Safety Case journey. As we continue this journey together, I hope that you would be open to share and learn from one another’s experiences.

19. On this note, I would like to wish everyone a fruitful and successful Symposium.

Thank you.

 


1Economic Survey of Singapore 2015 -
https://www.mti.gov.sg/ResearchRoom/Pages/Economic-Survey-of-Singapore-2015.aspx

 

 

/subscription/newsletter-subscription