Safety is good for business

Thirty-two workplace fatalities for the first five months of this year work out to about six cases a month ("Concern over rising workplace deaths"; May 25).

This has caused concern among industry players, government agencies, non-governmental organisations and companies. In all, the deaths would have cost about $6.5 million in work injury compensation.

Many initiatives and programmes have been organised over the past years to promote and inculcate safety awareness in the workforce.

However, in spite of these, the number of accidents is still rising.

Where have we not done enough? Or is there a missing link in the safety management system?

The main issues lie in the implementation of the safety management system and the safety culture on site.

It is an unwritten rule in construction that project progress takes precedence over safety, as various deadlines have to be met to avoid penalties, and so on.

Thus, the safety culture on the ground and among those managing the site leaves much to be desired.

The ultimate responsibility for safety rests with site management, which often overrules the recommendations of the workplace safety and health officer, thus hampering efforts in safety promotion and accident prevention - until an accident happens.

Another factor is workers' training on safety. While it is laudable that courses have been designed by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency to fulfil the intended purpose, the quality of the training given by training providers is sometimes questionable and leaves room for further improvement and tighter controls in the selection assessment and auditing of competent trainers.

In fact, some approved training providers have been taken to task for not meeting training requirements, and their accreditations have been cancelled ("Certs without tests? Workers have to retrain"; Oct 18, 2015).

Nothing in the workplace is more important than worker safety and health. But this needs the commitment of all workers, with the help of all stakeholders, site management, supervisors, safety professionals and training providers.

It is good to remember that safety is good for business.

Lim Boon Khoon