Significant improvement in SAF training safety since Inspector-General's Office set up: Ng Eng Hen

The SAF will continue its efforts and put out the message that safety is everyone's concern. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - There has been a significant improvement in training safety in the Singapore Armed Forces since the Inspector-General's Office (IGO) was set up last year, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

This is not just in terms of the number of safety incidents, but in having more reports of near misses, he added, although he did not give numbers.

He was responding to a question on the IGO's work in a virtual interview last week ahead of SAF Day on Wednesday (July 1).

"The fact that we have seen more (near miss) reporting, we see it as a good sign that, 'oh you nearly missed this', and people are more willing to report this, and actual incidents are coming down," he said.

While this was a "low hanging fruit", said Dr Ng, the SAF will continue its efforts and put out the message that safety is everyone's concern - from commanders to safety officers and soldiers on the ground.

The IGO was announced in January last year following the death of actor Aloysius Pang that month after he sustained a serious injury during a live firing exercise in New Zealand.

SAF training safety came under the spotlight after the training incident.

The office is headed by the SAF Inspector-General and Chief of Staff-Joint Staff, Brigadier-General Tan Chee Wee, who reports directly to the Chief of Defence Force and has full authority to scrutinise and enforce safety processes at all levels.

Describing the IGO as a "very virtuous initiative", Dr Ng said it has given additional focus to safety.

"It is like the safe distancing ambassadors. When they come, they do not even have to do anything, and everyone assumes the 1m rule before anything even happens.

"So their presence alone brings to mind that you have to be safe."

But that is not good enough, he said,adding that the office is looking at systems and strengthening them.

"The very fact that they are looking at systems, because they understand that ultimately... safety is something that only the units can ensure, right down to the last man."

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