Ever wonder how big plant facilities ensure a safe and healthful workplace? It begins with effective process safety management. This practice is designed to reduce risks for employees who handle hazardous materials as part of their jobs. By implementing controls that prevent leaks, spills, and equipment failure, companies not only prioritise the safety of their workforce but also contribute to their broader ESG goals.
Safety incidents in Singapore are not rare and sometimes result in potential casualties. Fortunately, whenever there is a spate of incidents, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) steps up inspections and pushes back on companies in high-risk sectors. Businesses may also take it upon themselves to improve workplace safety, an example being the pledge that companies on Jurong Island have taken to prioritise worker safety by sharing best practices and innovations with each other.
What are Major Hazard Installations in Singapore?
Singapore places a strong emphasis on regulating Major Hazard Installations (MHIs), which handle large quantities of toxic and flammable substances. You’re an MHI if you belong to any of the following high-risk industries:
- Chemical, petroleum, petrochemical, and wafer fabrication industries.
- Paper, polymer, synthetic fibre, food, and pharmaceutical industries.
- Industrial activities involving water purification and waste treatment; and
- Others – third party logistics, manufacturing, research and development
MOM, NEA, and SCDF mandate strict risk assessments, emergency plans, and safety standards within MHIs. The Major Hazards Department (MHD) coordinates these efforts, conducting regular inspections, audits, and reviews to ensure safe operations. MHIs need risk assessments and a Safety Case to legally gain permits to operate their facility. A Safety Case is a document that identifies, controls, and minimises major accident risks, ensuring compliance with stringent regulations.
What does good process safety look like for high-risk industries?
One of the key aspects of MHI management is the requirement for companies to conduct thorough risk assessments. This involves identifying potential hazards, evaluating the likelihood of those hazards occurring, and assessing the potential consequences if they do. This information is used to implement measures to prevent accidents and mitigate their impact if they occur.
Additionally, MHIs are required to have robust emergency response plans in place. This includes regular drills to ensure that all employees are familiar with the procedures in the event of an incident. It also involves coordination with local emergency services to ensure a swift and effective response.
Furthermore, the design and construction of MHIs must adhere to strict safety standards. This includes the use of advanced engineering practices, safety systems, and containment measures to minimise the likelihood of a release or explosion.
In the event of an incident, transparency and communication are critical. Companies are required to promptly report any incidents to the relevant authorities and provide accurate information about the nature and extent of the incident. This allows for a coordinated response and helps to protect both workers and the public.
Building ESG strength through safety
A diligent attitude to site safety matters greatly for high-risk industries, where incidents can result in tragic loss of life. The Singapore government has set the bar high for risky installations, and companies have no choice but to follow due process if they are to operate. As process safety management and ESG are interlinked, a commitment to workplace safety will only add value to your ESG agenda and help elevate your reputation among clients, supply chain partners, and community.
Meet MHI regulations and build safe processes in consultation with ESC. We’re a long-term consultant to our clients and can help you keep abreast of new regulations and improve your ESG credentials. Talk to our EHS & Risk Management consultant now.