The extension of the Heightened Safety Period to 31 May 2023 and the imposition of additional measures are to counter the increase in the annualised major injury rate.
Due to workplace safety and health (WSH) concerns arising from the lack of improvement in rates of workplace fatalities and a rise in major injuries in certain sectors, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has announced the following:
- A three-month extension to the Heightened Safety Period (HSP) to 31 May 2023. The HSP, which applies across all industries, was due to end on 28 February 2023 (see our earlier alert: New Code of Practice details Chief Executive, Director Workplace Safety and Health Statutory Duties)
- Additional measures adopting the Recommendations by International Advisory Panel to Strengthen Workplace Safety & Health on 19 January 2023 (“IAP Recommendations“)
These additional measures may apply not only to the subcontractor as the employer responsible for its workers safety and health but also to the procurement processes for the whole supply chain comprising the multiple layers of subcontracting and outsourcing of work.
We summarise below the key takeaways for compliance with the additional measures and the IAP Recommendations.
To emphasise the personal accountability of the employer’s senior leadership and to ensure compliance with the Workplace Safety and Health Act 2006 (WSHA) and related regulations, the MOM will adopt the stronger measures, including the following:
- Requiring the chief executive officers and boards of directors of employers found to have serious WSH lapses following serious or fatal workplace accidents to attend a mandatory half-day in-person enhanced version of the existing bizSAFE training for senior management; holding corporate senior leadership personally accountable and requiring them to take responsibility for WSH rectifications.
- Increasing the maximum fines, from SGD 20,000 to SGD 50,000, for breaches of the Workplace Safety and Health Act 2006 (WSHA) and related regulations that could result in death or serious bodily injury, in order to enhance deterrence for WSHA breaches.
Note that the WSHA also imposes WSH duties on all principals of contractors and subcontractors where the principal:
- Engaged the contractor.
- Directs the work of the contractor.
Companies engaging the services of contractors should note that one of the key IAP Recommendations is to extend WSH oversight to contractors in the whole supply chain as a response to the practice of multiple layers of subcontracting and outsourcing of work, which could dilute safety and health responsibilities and contribute to workplace injuries.
Hence, the IAP recommends the following for the main contractor / service buyer:
- Assess potential contractors/vendors based on their past safety performances.
- Use procurement contracts to require companies in the supply chain to improve WSH by, for example, incorporating specific safety requirements.
Accountability on contractors/vendors should be applied to all levels of subcontracting, and not just the main-contractors and prime subcontractors.