Work safety career gets boost

New leadership programme grooms managers to attract more to profession

A new programme to groom workplace safety and health (WSH) managers for leadership positions, designed to make such safety jobs more attractive, was launched yesterday.

The WSH Leadership programme was announced by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (Siso) at the latter's 13th Annual Workplace Safety and Health Officers Conference.

The year-long course, which will start next year with an inaugural cohort of 50 WSH officers in middle management, is meant to equip participants with skills such as how to negotiate with senior executives, and managing crisis and change.

Participants, who should be registered as safety officers with the Ministry of Manpower and have at least eight years of experience in the field, can get 45 per cent of the $2,800 course fee subsidised by the Employment and Employability Institute if they are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

Siso president Seet Choh San said he hoped the programme could provide safety officers with a "clearly defined career progression pathway" that will attract more to the profession.

It could also help them to compete for senior positions with foreign talent from other countries, he added. There are 3,500 WSH professionals registered here.

Ms Jasmine Nah, 42, a health and safety regional manager at engineering firm Aurecon, is among those considering the course.

She said: "It's always been quite hard for me to reach people at the top level, but I know it's important because workplace safety must be driven by these people."

NTUC secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, the conference's guest of honour, spoke during a dialogue on the need to improve the workplace safety culture by relying not just on rules and checklists but also on instinct to keep workers safe.

He said: "Machines can be safer only if the man behind the machine has the correct mindset. Methods cannot replace vigilance; they must not be a crutch."

NTUC yesterday also announced new tripartite work-safety guidelines for the oil, petrochemical, energy and chemical industries, which are advised to enhance their permit-to-work systems.

These systems are formal recorded processes that control the on-site execution of certain hazardous activities.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 06, 2015, with the headline 'Work safety career gets boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe