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SG workplace safety and health needs “deeper reforms”: Manpower minister

Senior Minister Zaqy Mohamad emphasized that Heightened Safety Period will not last long despite its positive effects.

Singapore must implement “deeper reforms” to strengthen its Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) standards and practices, the country’s Senior Minister of State for Manpower, Zaqy Mohamad, emphasized last 1 March.

In his speech during the Committee of Supply 2023 debate, Senior Minister Mohamad said that the Multi-Agency Workplace Safety Taskforce is considering those reforms for broad-based and sectoral WSH measures, which will be announced “when ready.”

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The call for reform began after Senior Minister Mohamad revealed that the Heightened Safety Period (HSP) will not last long despite being a “useful wake-up call to all employers and workers to be extra vigilant.”

Since first introduced on 1 September 2022, the HSP’s strong measures reduced the average number of fatalities per month from 4.5 in January-August 2022 to 2.5 in September- December 2022.

The HSP originally lapsed last 28 February, but the Minister of Manpower (MOM) extended it by three months to 31 May.

“What we do need to do is to strengthen WSH standards and practices sustainably for the long-term,” Senior Minister Mohamad said.

In the meantime, MOM introduced new measures as part of the HSP extension to strengthen WSH ownership among company leaders.

Under these new measures, CEOs or the Board of Directors of companies with WSH lapses must attend a mandatory half-day in-person training course.

Separately, MOM will launch a campaign to encourage workers to speak up on WSH concerns and raise awareness to protect them. “Employers cannot dismiss or threaten employees who whistleblow. MOM will take action against employers who do so,” Senior Minister Mohamad said.

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