Vital for employers to prepare staff for terror attacks: Sam Tan

ST VIDEO: TAN TAM MEI
A "casualty" being evacuated from the premises of Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore in Bedok South Road during yesterday's terrorism drill, which involved the in-house Company Emergency Response Team, police and the Singapore Civil
A "casualty" being evacuated from the premises of Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore in Bedok South Road during yesterday's terrorism drill, which involved the in-house Company Emergency Response Team, police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

There were shouts and a flurry of activity as workers at the Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore manufacturing plant in Bedok South Road reacted to a "terror" incident yesterday morning.

An "intruder" had thrown a Molotov cocktail into the company's liquid petroleum gas storage area, causing an explosion and a blaze.

The in-house Company Emergency Response Team (Cert) geared up and responded, some of them fighting the fire with hoses while others rescued two "casualties". The police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived soon after and took over.

The "attack" was part of a simulation initiated by the Bedok Safety Group (BSG) - a volunteer group that promotes workplace safety - and supported by the police, SCDF and Ministry of Manpower.

Under the law, factories, buildings with large generators and commercial buildings are required to have Certs - made up of employees trained in incident management and responding to fire and hazardous material emergencies.

In a speech before the exercise, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said it showcased the growing importance of the SGSecure movement in workplaces, which are not spared from the threat of terrorism.

"We must not be complacent and depend only on security agencies to prepare and respond against terror attacks. SGSecure is a collective responsibility to safeguard Singapore and protect Singaporeans, and we can all do our part to achieve this objective," he said.

To prevent terrorism from disrupting businesses and affecting employee morale, Mr Tan said it was vital for employers to train selected personnel in first aid and life-saving skills, strengthen workplace security, and develop community networks with neighbouring businesses to boost vigilance.

More than 80 representatives from 14 member companies of the BSG attended the event, which was the first such exercise to be conducted on industrial premises.

The BSG was established in 1985 and is an independent, non-profit group that works with industry partners and government agencies to organise seminars about occupational safety and health.

BSG chairman Steven Tan, 42, said it was important for employees to be prepared for terror attacks.

"During peacetime, we should take the opportunity to enhance our response plans, address all possible gaps and share best practices among the community of like-minded organisations.

"We must also strengthen the cohesiveness in our workforce, so that we can continue to preserve our strong sense of unity in the face of terror attacks."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2017, with the headline 'Vital for employers to prepare staff for terror attacks: Sam Tan'. Print Edition | Subscribe