Collective efforts needed to improve WSH outcomes

We thank Mr Han Wenqi ("Hold sub-contractors to account for safety lapses"; Dec 22, 2016), Mr Francis Cheng ("Main contractors should be held liable for safety lapses"; Dec 27, 2016) and Mr Manoraj Rajathurai ("Construction industry can learn from oil rigs' safety measures"; Forum Online, Dec 30, 2016) for their letters.

Similar to main contractors, sub-contractors are liable and subject to an enforcement and penalty framework if they are found responsible for safety lapses.

The relationship between main and sub-contractors should, however, not be about shifting blame.

It must be collaborative in nature, with the main contractor exercising strong leadership to improve workplace safety and health (WSH) outcomes at their sites for all workers.

Developers and main contractors should consider the WSH track record and capabilities of sub-contractors when awarding contracts.

Sub-contractors should take steps to improve their WSH management system.

The bizSAFE programme serves this purpose. Today, over 25,000 companies are bizSAFE-certified.

The Government has taken the lead to require at least bizSAFE Level 3 certification for public construction project tenders.

Training is also important in ensuring that workers are aware of the risks at work and know how to protect themselves.

Today, there are over 56 safety courses across four key industries. The curriculum is regularly reviewed and we have a system of audits to uphold training standards.

In the past 12 months, we have revoked the licenses of 11 Accredited Training Providers for fraudulent practices.

By July 1, all Accredited Training Providers will be required to attain the ISO standards.

By 2019, all WSH courses will be qualified under the Workforce Skill Qualification framework.

Ultimately, sustained improvement in WSH can be realised only if leaders are committed in bringing about a culture where all harm can be prevented.

Ho Siong Hin

Commissioner

Workplace Safety and Health

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Collective efforts needed to improve WSH outcomes'. Print Edition | Subscribe