COMMENTARY

Managing Workplace Safety & Health Holistically in the Current Construction Climate

By Ray Tan Guang Rong

Significant Improvement in Construction Safety & Health over the Years

The construction industry in Singapore has made significant progress in Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) over the years, thanks to the industry’s commitment and partnership with regulators to improve health and safety standards.

The construction industry’s fatal workplace injury rate has declined by 76 per cent since 2006, with major changes such as the introduction of the WSH Act and Construction Safety Audit Scoring System (ConSASS) in 2006; the start of bizSAFE and the enhancement of the Construction Safety Orientation Course (CSOC) in 2007; the enactment of the WSH (Design for Safety) Regulations in 2015; and the introduction of other initiatives and regulatory changes.

Failing to implement COVID-19 infection control measures could lead to mass infections amongst workers, affecting their health and the company’s ability to meet project timelines.

bizSAFE 5 steps

Impact and Challenges Brought Upon by COVID-19

Construction workplace fatality rate declined to a historical low of 2.2 per 100,000 workers in 2020. However, it has returned to nine fatalities in the first nine months 2021, similar to pre-COVID-19 levels, where there were eight fatalities in the first nine months of 2019.

At the same time, the pandemic has reminded everyone that protecting employees’ health is just as important as protecting their safety, and that preventing infectious disease transmission in the workplace is part and parcel of workplace health. Failing to implement COVID-19 infection control measures could lead to mass infections amongst workers, affecting their health and the company’s ability to meet project timelines.

The industry has to sustain its injury prevention and health promotion efforts to make construction worksites as safe and healthy as possible. Nonetheless, it is clear that the industry has faced tremendous challenges over the past two years due to COVID-19—from the work stoppage in 2020 to manpower disruptions that the industry as a whole is still grappling with.

It is indeed no small feat for companies to have persisted in their WSH journey despite the recent difficulties.

How WSH Council Programmes Can Contribute to a More Robust Sector To better support companies to improve WSH, the WSH Council has enhanced some of its programmes such as bizSAFE. It is a five-step programme to guide companies to build up their risk management capabilities. Many developers recognise contractors with bizSAFE certification as having good WSH standards—it has become a requirement for contractors to participate in their projects. Construction firms with bizSAFE recognition hence realised that their business value has increased as a result.


This is an excerpt. The original article is published in Construction+ Q1 2022 Issue: Upskilling The Workforce.
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