The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) introduced last May 23 the Safety Accountability, Focus and Empowerment (SAFE) to replace the overextended Heightened Safety Period (HSP) in a bid to address the increased number of workplace major injury cases. The move was announced by Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad during the launch of the National Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Campaign 2023.
The HSP, originally planned to run from September 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023, was given another three months extension to continue its momentum of stemming the tide of workplace incidents, particularly in fatality cases. During the “heightened safety” period, companies were mandated to go through a “safety time-out” to review their existing safety procedures using a MOM-provided safety circular and checklist.
Non-compliant companies were barred from hiring new foreign employees for up to three months, and a revised and more stringent demerit system was put in place for any workplace safety and health breaches, which include poor working conditions, injuries, and fatalities.
Apparently, the regulation was not enough, as the number of major injury cases continues to rise despite imposed heightened safety period. While there was a significant decline in workplace fatalities, the major injury incidents rate has seen a jump, from 16.8 per 100,000 workers before the HSP to 19.2 during HSP.
SAFE measures for sustainable WSH outcomes
Despite the progress brought by the HSP, as seen in the improvement to the Construction sector, the prevailing safety issues involving major injury cases, particularly the worsening fatal and major injury rate in the Manufacturing sector, prompted the MOM to note that “This indicates the need for more sector-specific intervention to improve workplace safety outcomes.”
The new Safety Accountability, Focus and Empowerment (SAFE) measures, to be carried out by the Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce (MAST), will enhance WSH ownership at the sectoral, company, and worker levels. At the same time, the new Singapore WSH measures are expected to produce more sustainable safety and risk management resolution outcomes.
SAFE measures highlighted will include, but are not limited to:
- Support for SMEs such as the StartSAFE program from June this year
- Safety Orientation Course recertification assessment for workers from January 2024.
- Mandatory safety course for CEO’s and board of directors of all companies in identified high-risk industries from March 2024.
- Required video surveillance at worksite locations with high-risk work activities from June 2024.
- Safety requirements in government procurement tenders and
- An expanded Demerit Point System to the Manufacturing sector – more details will be announced by agencies when ready.
What’s at stake for companies?
Companies and CEOs are faced with unprecedented uncertainties and potential concerns at the management level as the new SAFE measures are expected to be carried out within the next couple of months. But with the aim of playing a more active role and becoming more accountable to prevent fatalities and injuries and to create more overall health-conducive working conditions, company owners should strive to make workplace safety and health a top priority in their operational planning. Plus, it is also an acknowledgement that a safe and healthy working environment is a crucial factor in a business’s success.
Here at ESC, we are committed to bringing innovative, practical, relevant, and sustainable solutions to help our clients meet their EHS and ESG requirements. Our team of EHS legal register experts is equipped with multidisciplinary knowledge and technical expertise that are guaranteed to provide insightful business solutions that meet local and international standards and regulations.
If you want to find out more about what will be the impact of SAFE on your company’s operations, how you can fully maximize the new WSH measures, and how your company can play a more significant role to contribute to workplace safety and health solutions, please contact our local EHS compliance experts.