Healthy life made easier for SME staff

Workers taking advantage of a free medical check-up in a pop-up tent at Tampines Industrial Park A, organised by HPB as part of the Healthy Workplace Ecosystem initiative.
Workers taking advantage of a free medical check-up in a pop-up tent at Tampines Industrial Park A, organised by HPB as part of the Healthy Workplace Ecosystem initiative.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

HPB takes workplace scheme to 5,000 workers of 800 firms in Tampines Industrial Park

Some 5,000 workers from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) at Tampines Industrial Park A stand to benefit from free health screenings and exercise classes right where they work, through the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) ongoing healthy living initiative.

It is the first time the Healthy Workplace Ecosystem has been implemented on such a scale in an industrial estate. A pilot last year involved just 800 workers from about 140 companies at industrial estates in Ang Mo Kio and Bedok.

This time, about 800 SMEs are involved in the collaboration between the HPB, HDB, the Tampines Small and Medium Enterprise Association and the Tampines Industrial Manufacturers Association.

"Today's launch really is a major milestone for us, in terms of taking innovative, holistic and customised health programmes into the workplace and making it accessible and convenient," said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, who attended the launch event yesterday.

She said SMEs typically have smaller workforce sizes, with limited access to workplace health programmes - an issue the initiative seeks to address.

As nearly half of the workers attended to yesterday are at least 40 years old, the focus is on chronic disease detection and management.

Health screenings will be conducted twice a year, with the first held yesterday. Workers have their body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels measured. Those found to be unhealthy will get personalised health coaching sessions for six months. They will also be given wearable step trackers to monitor their physical activity level.

Those who are sick will be referred to general practitioners.

In other highlights, workers can sign up for exercise classes, while 60 per cent of the stalls in two canteens will serve food with fewer than 500 calories. There is also a quit-smoking programme with free on-site counselling .

Mr Francis Chua, director of Peak Engineering and Consultancy, sees the benefits for his 80 employees. "It will help to promote awareness of staying healthy, especially because SMEs like us have limited resources to provide health screenings," he said.

The plan is to expand the scheme to 40 industrial parks by 2020 and involve 150,000 SME employees.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'Healthy life made easier for SME staff'. Print Edition | Subscribe