Singapore Budget 2015: Health programmes for workers in retail, security sectors

SINGAPORE - Workers in the retail and security sectors can look forward to health programmes at their workplace this year, said Senior Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Heng Chee How on Thursday.

This is part of an effort to help seniors stay healthy longer, in line with the Government's goal of lifelong employment, said Mr Heng, who is also deputy labour chief, in a Parliamentary debate on the Health Ministry's budget.

"Employment brings greater financial security and also keeps seniors meaningfully occupied and cognitively active," he said. "Ultimately, work gives a sense of fulfilment and self-worth."

He was responding to MP Ellen Lee (Sembawang GRC), who asked what the authorities were doing to help seniors stay health, and thus employed, longer.

Pointing to the success of two pilot health promotion programmes last year - one for taxi drivers and another for cleaners - Mr Heng said the authorities will extend workplace health programmes to sectors like retail and security this year.

In June last year, the Health Promotion Board, along with healthcare cluster Alexandra Health System, tied up with taxi firms to provide health screenings and personalised advice sessions to drivers aged 40 and above. They also gave out car decals to drivers, reminding them to take frequent stretches.

A similar programme was rolled out for mature cleaners at Singapore Polytechnic in September last year. More than 60 per cent of the 180 cleaners now attend regular coaching sessions on how to manage chronic conditions and pain, and take part in activities to strengthen their muscles to prevent falls, he added.

The programme for security and retail workers would be customised to their needs, just as the pilot programmes for taxi drivers and cleaners were tailored to their job type, he added.

Improving workplace health is a boon for all, said Mr Heng. "Workers benefit if they stay healthy longer - they can work longer, and also save on healthcare cost. Employers benefit, because (having) mature workers who can work longer means additional manpower."

"As a whole, our nation benefits when we convert longer life years to longer healthy and productivity life years."

rachelay@sph.com.sg