SINGAPORE – Singapore will adopt an international agreement which commits the Republic to creating, implementing, and periodically reviewing a national policy on workplace safety and health, in consultation with employers and workers.
Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced on Wednesday (June 12) in Geneva, Switzerland that Singapore will ratify the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Occupational Safety and Health Convention.
Speaking at the 108th International Labour Conference, Mrs Teo said that in Singapore’s vision of the future, workplace safety and health “remains a key priority”, and the ratification reaffirms its strong commitment to provide workers with safe and healthy work conditions.
Singapore is the second Asean country after Vietnam to endorse the pact, with support from the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).
Singapore has targeted to reduce the workplace fatality rate from the current average of 1.4 per 100,000 workers over the last three years, to less than 1 by 2028, on a sustained basis.
To work towards this goal, several strategies were recommended in April (2019) by a Workplace Safety and Health 2028 Tripartite Strategies Committee, and which the Government has accepted.
Tripartite partners will, among other initiatives, strengthen ownership of workplace safety and health among company management by sharpening commercial incentives for good performance in this area. Efforts to prevent occupational diseases and better manage chronic diseases, as well as promote mental health at work, will also be expanded.
Tripartite partners will also promote the adoption of technology that can tackle workplace safety and health problems and monitor workplace hazards, by building industry capability to develop and test-bed new solutions.
A delegation from Singapore including NTUC president Mary Liew and secretary-general Ng Chee Meng, SNEF president Robert Yap, union members, employer representatives and Government officials are in Geneva for the International Labour Conference, held from June 10 to 21 (2019).
This year’s conference is centred on the “Work for a brighter future” report by the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work.
ILO director-general Guy Ryder said at its opening that the world of work is facing the “most profound and transformative” changes seen in 100 years, and urged delegates to take responsibility for addressing this “defining challenge”.
Mrs Teo said in her speech: “As an open and connected economy, we are always vulnerable to the global winds of change.
“At the same time, as business models are increasingly disrupted, the pressure to transform jobs and skills is also building up. Against this backdrop, we have the challenge and opportunity of increased longevity,” she said.
Tripartism helps Singapore chart its approach to the future of work. She cited how economic agencies, workers and employers worked together over the past few years to draw up Industry Transformation Maps, which “set out how employers can tap on opportunities in the future economy, and prepare and support workers to take on better quality jobs”.
She also spoke about how the NTUC works with employers to set up training committees in companies to identify areas of training and skills for workers, to keep up with industry transformation.
The Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers has also successfully built a new consensus on retirement and re-employment age, to help Singaporeans earn and save more for productive longevity.
Mrs Teo also congratulated the ILO on its centenary, noting that it is a very significant milestone, and speaks to the continued relevance of the organisation and its unique tripartite structure.