SINGAPORE - Tug machines to transport 60 chairs instead of 10. Electric vans to replace old ones powered by diesel. Mechanised sweepers to reduce overnight shifts for cleaning staff.
These are examples of measures put in place by the Sands Expo and Convention Centre at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) in preparation for the reopening of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) events.
According to the Workplace Safety and Health Reports released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) annually, the overall number of workplace injuries rose from 12,810 in 2018 to 13,779 in 2019. Although the number of fatal injuries dropped from 41 to 39 last year, the number of minor and major injuries increased significantly.
In the Mice industry, employees usually face increased risks from falls (especially from heights), slips and moving heavy items.
Mr Ong Wee Min, vice-president of Mice at MBS, who had long been thinking of how to reduce such risks, recalled how he saw an employee working in unsafe conditions in the Sands Grand Ballroom two years ago.
"We saw a huge metal scaffold and one of the external contractors was climbing on it to adjust the lights," Mr Ong said. "To our horror, we noticed (he had) no safety harness, no helmet, nothing."
Mr Ong and his colleagues take the issue seriously. As he put it, "the show will not go on" in the event of a work-related injury or death.
"And for the Mice industry, we're all about the show," he added.
Mr Ong and his team were working on establishing more stringent workplace safety and health (WSH) measures, but the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a major blow to the industry. Now, as it slowly resumes operations, maintaining safe distancing and cleanliness standards are on top of WSH requirements.
For the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, this included training all Mice team members in safe management measures and constructing a "hybrid" broadcast studio with virtual conferencing options.
Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, toured the Sands Expo and Convention Centre on Tuesday (Dec 1) to view the new WSH practices.
He said it was "wonderful" to "see how the Mice industry has adapted to the current pandemic while maintaining a focus on workplace and safety".
Mr Zaqy also highlighted the importance of the Mice industry to Singapore's economy. "Being an international hub, it is important for Singapore to showcase that we are able to cope with the pandemic," he said.
"There are knock-on effects. You've got the hospitality industry that relies on the Mice industry too. The whole ecosystem has to click for us to remain relevant."
This article has been edited for clarity.