Skills guide for those in work safety, health sector

Workplace safety and health director Howard How (left) and health, safety, security and environmental coordinator Muhamad Ithnin are among those who welcomed the new Skills Framework for Workplace Safety and Health, which was announced yesterday.
Workplace safety and health director Howard How (left) and health, safety, security and environmental coordinator Muhamad Ithnin are among those who welcomed the new Skills Framework for Workplace Safety and Health, which was announced yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Framework offers information on careers and their required skills, especially in tech

A framework unveiled yesterday will give thousands of professionals in the workplace safety and health sector a clearer idea of the skills they need and how they can progress in their careers.

The framework provides key information on the industry, the careers it offers and the existing and emerging skills that are required, particularly those in the technology area.

There is also a list of training programmes for skills upgrading.

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo told a conference yesterday when the initiative was launched: "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 the Workplace Safety and Health Council, with employers, industry associations, and education and training providers.

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

"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) skill sets to help them be more effective," said Mrs Teo, who was speaking at the Workplace Safety and Health Officers Conference at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

These officers are critical in helping Singapore to achieve workplace safety and health goals by 2028 outlined in a plan, she added.

 
 

The plan sets the target of reducing the workplace fatal injury rate to less than one for every 100,000 workers. It also lays out strategies to ensure Singapore has one of the world's safest and healthiest workplaces.

Some of the strategies include enhancing the focus on workplace health by expanding efforts to prevent occupational diseases and strengthening the training of professionals through technology.

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.

VERSATILE SKILL SET

This road map shows that we need a mix of technical skills and soft skills such as communication.

MR HOWARD HOW, a workplace safety and health director at an industrial real estate solutions provider, on how the framework helps to make things clear for professionals in the sector.

"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 framework announced yesterday covers 53 existing and emerging technical skills and another 18 generic competencies. The emerging skills include cloud computing application, data synthesis, 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, said: "The framework helps me plan for my career progression and obtain related skills training and knowledge." He added that it is important for him to improve himself.

"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 skill sets 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 road map shows that we need a mix of technical skills and soft skills such as communication."

Mr How 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 complaints. Upskilling is also very important."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2019, with the headline 'Skills guide for those in work safety, health sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe