Forum: Ensure safety timeouts are useful learning opportunities

More than 12,000 companies answered the national call for a two-week safety timeout, supported by industrial partners and workers' representatives (12,000 firms to impose safety timeout following recent spate of fatal accidents, May 12).

A safety timeout is a time to gain or regain industrial focus on the task at hand. It serves to outline what the roles are and helps to identify the hazards the work presents.

It is a good way to promote safety and accident prevention with top management commitment, and for it to be executed clearly and properly.

Such timeouts have been conducted in previous years, but sad to say, they have not been effective, as shown by the current number of workplace deaths - 25 so far this year, higher than the 23 deaths recorded in the first half of last year, and 17 deaths in the same period in 2019.

I wonder if the safety timeouts have deviated from the main objectives of reviewing risk assessment, risk control measures and reinforcing workplace safety and health processes.

One session I viewed online had turned into a seminar with representatives from the authorities, statutory boards, private organisations and trade associations speaking generally on different topics.

The presenters lacked the knowledge and experience to share lessons learnt. Corporate top management also did not actively participate, apart from giving short speeches.

Such sessions can turn out to be a waste of time and resources if little or nothing is learnt.

Lim Boon Khoon

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