Forum: Let workplace safety officers focus on preventing injuries

One change brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic is that workplace safety and health (WSH) professional duties have been expanded to many areas, such as administering and managing the various Covid-19 safe management measures.

Administering antigen rapid tests and monitoring the results are almost a full-time job, and come on top of a WSH officer's duties in areas such as security, fire safety and environmental safety.

Safety and health, though closely related, are not the same in function and responsibilities.

Safety concerns are related to injury-causing situations and hazards to humans that result from severe conditions.

Health concerns are related to disease-causing conditions from industrial processes (different from Covid-19, which is infectious in nature) and deal with reactions to exposure to dangerous hazards.

Many in the industry are disappointed that the professional duties under the WSH Act have been compromised and much diluted when WSH officers are deployed to perform non-safety-related functions with little or no salary increment.

There are likely to be more workplace fatalities this year than last year (currently the figure stands at 30, which is the same as for the whole of last year), and there is a need to get WSH officers back to focusing on the prevention of injury, and not performing any other tasks not covered by WSH regulations.

Lim Boon Khoon

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