Health and safety training incentives offered to Singapore construction industry

Author: PM editorial | Date: 29 Jun 2016

Singaporean construction industry to benefit from lower levies on foreign workers who undergo extra health and safety training

Cost savings for construction businesses may lead to foreign workers being asked to undergo additional safety training courses, as the country works to try to reduce the number of workplace accidents.
 
It is understood a discount on levies of $350 a month will apply from October and will cover foreign workers with at least six years’ experience in the construction industry in Singapore, who have completed the training, and who are also certified by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). It would also enable employers to keep those workers on for longer.
 
Speaking at a Construction Safety, Health and Security seminar on 22 June, in which the measures were announced, minister of state for manpower Sam Ta, stressed that workplace safety and health (WSH) training of staff could be improved.
 
He told attendees that WSH performance in the construction industry had deteriorated in the first half of 2016, with 17 workers having lost their lives in workplace accidents, compared to nine in the first six months of 2015.
 
The sector was also the biggest contributor of workplace fatalities last year, accounting for 41 per cent of all cases.
 
Tan said the ministry of manpower (MOM) had stepped up inspections and enforcement actions, inspecting more than 800 businesses in May this year alone and finding more than 1,000 WSH contraventions.
 
It has also brought in stiffer penalties, including the increase in the minimum Stop Work Order period from two to three weeks, strengthening the Business Under Surveillance programme, and temporarily suspending access to new foreign workers.
 
“While workers play a key role in preventing injuries by being careful and taking necessary precautions, employers too, have a duty to protect workers and promote safe and healthy workplaces,” said Tan.
 
The MOM has worked with the BCA - which administers the Multi-skilling Scheme - to extend it to more experienced workers specialised in safety-related works on site.
 
“From October 2016, Basic Skilled R2 workers with at least six years of construction experience in Singapore and a Skills Evaluation Certificate (Knowledge) or SEC(K) in the construction trade can be certified as Higher Skilled R1 workers, if they also complete at least 120 hours of training in approved safety-related courses, or obtain the WSQ Advanced Certificate in WSH,” said Tan.
 
“By recognising Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) trained work permit holders as R1 workers, more companies can retain their skilled and experienced EHS workers as they enjoy a longer employment period of up to 22 years and lower levies. Employers will also have greater flexibility in deploying these multi-skilled workers on-site, reducing downtime and improving productivity. The sector’s WSH standards and quality of the construction workforce in Singapore will naturally improve.”