Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore serve an important role in upholding job site safety since they account for almost all businesses and around 70 percent of the labour force.
Their participation will help the country achieve an ambitious target, which seeks to reduce workplace fatalities to less than one per 100,000 people before 2028. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong set the goal that reflects an almost 50 percent reduction from the current level.
Singapore’s workplace fatality rate reached 1.9 per 100,000 in 2016. It expects to record 1.8 by 2018 partly by implementing regulations, including the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act. The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) believes that SMEs will be crucial in achieving the target rate.
However, NTUC Director Melvin Yong said that despite a willingness to contribute, several businesses remain clueless about WSH risks in their work environment. Safety does not always have to involve injury prevention, but also using simple products that follow the Workplace Safety & Compliance’s guidelines such as thermal printers for patients’ safety in hospitals.
While companies must improve safety, Yong noted that employees should also take the initiative. Josephine Teo, Second Minister for Manpower, agreed with his comments and particularly advised young workers to know the best practices for workplace safety.
Teo said that people between 15 and 24 years old have a 40 percent higher risk of experiencing workplace injuries than older workers, based on data from the International Labour Organisation. Some habits not always require training, as this can be as simple as speaking up when noticing poor implementation of workplace security, according to Teo.
Many of people spend most of the day at work, which is why workplace safety should be our priority. SMEs and other businesses should also begin to evaluate how it can prevent injuries and familiarise themselves with the WSH Act.