Singapore's workplace safety laws amended

The changes include tough penalties on safety lapses, quicker turnaround on post-incident learning reports, and a shift in accreditation provider.

 

The changes include tough penalties on safety lapses, quicker turnaround on post-incident learning reports, and a shift in accreditation provider.

 

A suite of amendments have been made to the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act, as passed in Parliament earlier this week. These changes follow an announcement made in July this year to review Singapore’s laws on workplace safety.

HRM Asia has the rundown on the key changes:

 

  1. From 2018 onwards, employers will face stiffer punishments for breaches in workplace safety.

From January 1 next year, unsafe work practices resulting in death or serious harm can result in fines of up to $50,000 – more than double the current maximum of $20,000.

Such lapses could include a failure to implement protective structures or to proper supervise hazardous work.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan highlighted that the changes are intended to prevent accidents.

"While we can penalise the companies, it is already too late for the injured or deceased workers and their families. Prevention is still the better option to protect (against) unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods," he said.

 

  1. Also kicking off next year, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will be able to release learning points and recommendations from workplace safety incidents – even before any criminal proceedings have concluded.

These reports will not name individuals or companies, and they will not be admissible in court. They will also only be made public on the WSH Council’s website if the learning points within are relevant to many companies across Singapore – if they are pertinent to just a few, however, the reports will be shared with them those firms only.

Nonetheless, with some court cases taking as long as three years to wrap up, the learning reports will enable the MOM to act quicker in issuing recommendations to prevent future accidents.

 

  1. From Jan 1 2019, accreditation of WSH courses will shift from MOM to SkillsFuture Singapore, which manages the national Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) credential system. Under the WSQ system, the content and method used in training courses must be relevant to their respective industries, and up to date. More than 20 courses have already been developed under the auspices of the WSQ, and the remaining 30+ courses are expected to migrate over by 2019.

 

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