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New grant to improve workplace safety announced

SINGAPORE — Expressing concerns over the number of fatal workplace accidents last month, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck stressed that injuries at work are “simply not acceptable”, as a new grant was announced Wednesday (Feb 17) to help companies improve their workplace safety measures.

Construction workers working at a construction site, 15 Jan, 2014. Photo: Ernest Chua/TODAY

Construction workers working at a construction site, 15 Jan, 2014. Photo: Ernest Chua/TODAY

SINGAPORE — Expressing concerns over the number of fatal workplace accidents last month, Minister of State for Manpower Teo Ser Luck stressed that injuries at work are “simply not acceptable”, as a new grant was announced Wednesday (Feb 17) to help companies improve their workplace safety measures.

The new capability development grant, administered by SPRING Singapore, subsidises up to 70 per cent of the costs for firms seeking certification under the bizSAFE programme, ranging between S$5,000 and S$8,000.

Speaking at the annual bizSAFE convention held at Singapore Expo on Wednesday, Mr Teo said that in the last month alone, nine people had died in workplace accidents. In comparison, the first half of 2015 saw 29 fatal workplace accidents. “The nine workers are not mere numbers; they are someone’s child, spouse, parent and co-worker,” he added, warning against complacency and urging for a collective effort to prevent such mishaps.

At the convention on Wednesday, Mr Teo presented awards to 39 companies and individuals for having good workplace safety and health practices.

One of them was Mr Suherwan Jasmani from Wee Guan Construction, who spends more than six hours every day conducting safety checks at various worksites, including ensuring proper labelling of hazardous chemicals, proper housekeeping and clearing potential mosquito breeding areas. His team also regularly conducts hands-on refresher trainings to educate workers on high-risk activities.

Through the efforts, the attitudes of workers have shifted, and they actively send him photos of possible worksite hazards through WhatsApp now, said Mr Suherwan, who was formerly a driver and site supervisor.

“I know how difficult it is, how they suffer the whole day, sweating (under the hot sun), just to send money to their families back home. It motivates me to ensure they are safe,” he added.

Another award recipient, Techgems Engineering and Construction, invested about S$1 million to bring in suction excavators from Germany, which can remove debris without damaging underground features, such as cables. Previously, the company’s workers had to perform the excavation manually, facing risks from toxic gases, for instance. 

The firm also runs a six-month mentorship programme for new workers who are evaluated before they are allowed to carry out works on their own.

The company’s director Jimmy Tan said: “They’re not just our workers, but our family members. Without them, we can’t work, so we must have a support system to take care of them and work more wholeheartedly together.” TOH EE MING

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