Skills framework launched for workplace safety and health officers

Crew members work on board a ship off Jurong Island, on July 11, 2019. Singapore aims to be one of the top countries with the safest and healthiest workplaces and to reduce the workplace fatal injury rate to below one for every 100,000 workers.
Crew members work on board a ship off Jurong Island, on July 11, 2019. Singapore aims to be one of the top countries with the safest and healthiest workplaces and to reduce the workplace fatal injury rate to below one for every 100,000 workers.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Workplace safety and health officers will now get a clearer idea of the skills needed for their job and how they can progress in their careers.

A skills framework for such officers was launched by Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo on Thursday (Oct 24) at the Workplace Safety and Health Officers Conference 2019 held at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

The framework provides key information on the workplace safety and health sector, the career pathways available to those in the industry and the possible job roles they can take on. It also highlights existing and emerging skills and competencies required, while providing a list of training programmes for skills upgrading.

Mrs Teo said: "With the framework, you can better plan and make more informed decisions about career development.

"Companies too can benefit, in terms of competency-based recruitment and more effective training plans."

The framework was jointly developed by SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore and Workplace Safety and Health Council, together with employers, industry associations, education and training providers.

It can guide the careers of some 4,700 registered workplace safety and health officers. This number has more than tripled from the 1,300 officers in 2006.

Mrs Teo said: "In the coming years, we expect the number of registered officers to stabilise alongside the economy. It is also timely to shift focus to enhance (their) skillsets to help them be more effective."

These officers are critical in helping Singapore to achieve its workplace safety and health goals outlined in the 2028 plan, Mrs Teo added.

 
 
 
 

The plan is a 10-year roadmap laying out the strategies to make Singapore one of the top countries with the safest and healthiest workplaces. The target is to reduce the workplace fatal injury rate to below one for every 100,000 workers.

Mrs Teo said: "It is clear to us that being (such an) officer is a critical and noble job. You are at the front line to protect the well-being of workers. You must be on the ground, mitigating hazards and creating safer workplaces.

"You must also go beyond what you do at the front line and reach into the boardrooms of organisations to exercise influence on employers so that they see the value of investing in risk management."

The new framework covers 53 existing and emerging technical skills and another 18 generic competencies. Some of the emerging skills identified include cloud computing application, data synthesis, Internet of Things management, technology application and technology infrastructure management and integration.

Mrs Teo said: "We see a lot of potential for you to build safer workplaces by incorporating technology into work processes or training."

Workplace safety and health professionals The Straits Times spoke to said they welcomed the new framework, which will be regularly reviewed to ensure it remains relevant.

Mr Muhamad Ithnin, 37, a health, safety, security and environmental coordinator at an oil and gas company, said: "The framework helps me plan for my career progression and obtain related skills training and knowledge. It is important for me to upgrade myself.

"I used to go for courses and learnt some digital skills, but this framework makes it easier by laying everything out for me and helping me to prioritise the skillsets I need for my job."

Mr Howard How, a 62-year-old workplace safety and health director at an industrial real estate solutions provider, said the framework will transform the profession. He has about 30 workplace safety and health staff under his guidance.

He said: "This roadmap shows that we need a mix of technical skills and also soft skills like communication."

He added that the framework provides a solution to those in the industry who have felt that there is no career progress for them.

"Now there is a map and it is not just about promoting staff when they have no accidents or have gotten no complaints. Upskilling is also very important."