Workpkace Safety and Health Council

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Prior to the introduction of the bizSAFE programme in 2007, the workplace safety and health (WSH) performance of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore was poor. Apart from having a high workplace fatality rate of (4.0 per 100,000 workers), SMEs accounted for the majority of the workplace fatalities (66%) in 2006, even though they employed only 63% of the workforce. In addition, there was a consistent trend that SME workers were more susceptible to accidents. The poor WSH outcomes of SMEs were mainly due to poor awareness of WSH issues and the lack of capability to identify and manage WSH risks. Many SMEs were involved in sub-contracting work where the work environment was dynamic and performed work in unfamiliar environment such as their client’s premises. Although such environment poses a higher WSH risk to SMEs, they were unable to tackle the WSH issues if left to handle the WSH risks alone due to a lack of capability.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
To address the issue of poor WSH outcomes, in particular in SMEs, in 2007, the Occupational Safety and Health Capability Building Branch of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Industry Capability Building Branch of the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) with inputs from industries, unions and government agencies identified the root causes and mapped out the strategic direction of WSH in Singapore in the WSH2018 strategic paper. Recommendations regarding SMEs such as reaching out and offering compliance assistance to SMEs; encouraging larger companies to be role models or mentors to smaller companies on best WSH practices and systems; and evolving Government towards implementing an effective regulatory framework through strategic intervention, resolution of systemic lapses and enhancing self regulation were made. To implement the recommendations, as a first step, the team identified the need to engage and render compliance assistance to SMEs to ensure that they are better informed of their roles and responsibilities to meet basic WSH standards. This would include providing SMEs with practical steps they can take to improve their WSH practices and systems and to help SMEs recognise that good WSH practices help them enhance their business competitiveness and profitability.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
First, build a comprehensive eco-system with special focus to assist SMEs build capability in WSH. The bizSAFE Community involves SMEs, bigger companies, WSH and exemplary companies. Such an eco-system helps to build the right environment for SMEs to receive the appropriate support throughout the supply chain and to build the right WSH capability. Second, encourage industry ownership and build expertise in specialised WSH fields. bizSAFE is led by the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) comprising leaders from major industry sectors, government, unions, legal, insurance and academic. This helps to ensure that the programme is tailored and sustainable for SMEs. Third, motivate SMEs to progress in their lingua, i.e. good WSH means good businesses. bizSAFE creates Awareness and Acceptance of “good WSH means good business” among businesses and encourages the Assimilation of the belief that good WSH means good business. As more buyers of SME services require bizSAFE in contracts, bizSAFE companies will have an advantage. Fourth, increase specific SME capability. This includes establishing WSH systems, implementing risk management, conducting incident investigation and competency building. Fifth, funding. Recognising that SMEs may lack resources to implement risk management, the Risk Management Assistance Fund (RMAF) was set up to help SMEs defray the cost of engaging an Approved Risk Consultant (ARC) to build in-house capabilities.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
bizSAFE was launched in 2007. To spread the message on bizSAFE, an extensive engagement plan was implemented to reach out to 1,000 SMEs in the first year. Apart from having a website dedicated to the bizSAFE programme, links were drawn to other relevant government agencies in Singapore. To ensure the sustainability of the programme, we have provided recognition in various forms. This include the bizSAFE recognition mark that will be awarded to the company for use on their company marketing or business collaterals to demonstrate their commitment to WSH, and hence quality to their clients. The bizSAFE community – bizSAFE enterprises, bizSAFE Partners, bizSAFE Mentors and service providers will also be accorded publicity via the bizSAFE webpage and WSHC engagement and campaigns. In addition, the bizSAFE Awards were established to recognise the achievements of the bizSAFE community. Award recipients are recognised at the national level, with full media publicity of their achievements. At the annual bizSAFE Convention, best practices are shared to encourage cross-sharing among industries and to foster greater sustainability of WSH outcomes. At the same time, a robust administration process is put in place to maintain the high WSH standards and the integrity of bizSAFE through audits and information sharing with the enforcement arm of the Ministry of Manpower. Regular surveys and feedbacks were also received from service buyers.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The key stakeholders were the Occupational Safety and Health Capability Building Branch of the Ministry of Manpower and the International Advisory Panel (IAP) for WSH which co-identified SMEs as a priority target. The Workplace Safety and Health Council, a tripartite set up with representation from business, unions and government formed on 1 April 2008, has been managing and executing bizSAFE since.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
A team of 10 staff was deployed to implement this project, which was supported by external event organisers. The make-up of the team was as such. Three administrators to manage bizSAFE applications and progression as well as funds to subsidise SMEs in implementing RM under bizSAFE. Five officers were involved in engagement and outreach efforts across all industries, organise programme cluster seminars and forums, mentor industry and trade associations, and identify gaps and work closely with SMEs. The team also leveraged on more than 300 industry and public sector agency contacts to bring in bizSAFE Enterprises through their procurement influences. The estimated budget for the project is $1,480,000 per year. Funded by the MOM and industry, here is a breakdown of the budget: - Seminars, workshops and events: $100,000 - Production of pamphlets and collaterals: $20,000 - Branding: $150,000 - Media placements: $80,000 - Risk Management Assistance Fund (RMAF): $1,000,000 - Industry sponsorship: $130,000

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
With the introduction of bizSAFE, combined with other programmes by MOM and WSHC, the fatality rate has decreased from 2.9 in 2007 to 2.1 per 100,000 workers in 2013. The number of bizSAFE SMEs has also grown to 19,000 (as of August 2014), a nineteen-fold increase since it was introduced. Based on the bizSAFE Evaluation Study that was conducted in 2013 to study the effectiveness of the bizSAFE programme, 9 in 10 bizSAFE Enterprises agreed that bizSAFE helped to improve safety and health of their workplace and 75% of bizSAFE Enterprises would recommend others to join bizSAFE. The Study also showed that bizSAFE SMEs better understand that to work with large companies, they have to operate safely. The 300 bizSAFE Partners are big players and have included bizSAFE as a condition or criterion for procurement. These bizSAFE Partners include large contractors, shipyards, manufacturers and government. Furthermore, 81% of client companies would prefer to engage bizSAFE Enteprises for future contracts because they managed WSH better than non-bizSAFE companies. Over the years, the WSHC has fine-tuned its engagement approach to meet the specific needs of SMEs. Many companies are keen to improve safety and health but have concerns over time and funding. Hence, WSHC has implemented e-Learning for bizSAFE Level 1 CEO/ Top Management, where top management can complete bizSAFE Level 1 requirement regardless of their locations. In addition, since the launch of the RMAF, a SGD$24 million fund for SMEs to tap up for RM/bizSAFE, we have seen high demand by SMEs which resulted in the fund being fully disbursed. Even with the end of RMAF, around 260 SMEs embark on bizSAFE monthly. This shows that the eco-system is self-sustaining, which can be seen in the results of the Study. 97% of bizSAFE enterprises polled (compared to 83% of non-bizSAFE companies) were aware of WSH risks in their workplaces and 84% of bizSAFE enterprises (compared to 56% of non-bizSAFE companies) saw management staff attending WSH committee meetings. References: - Workplace Safety and Health Institute, 2007. Workplace Safety and Health Report 2007. [Online] Available at: Latest%20Stats%20report_280408.pdf - Workplace Safety and Health Institute, 2007. Workplace Safety and Health Report 2013. [Online] Available at: National%20Statistics%20Report%202013.pdf - Workplace Safety and Health Institute, 2013. bizSAFE Evaluation Study. [Online] Available at:

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The tracking of the progress of bizSAFE companies is mainly done through the monitoring of companies’ progress through the bizSAFE levels. bizSAFE is a 5-level programme, where the companies have to achieve specific milestones in each level before they can progress to the next level. Each bizSAFE level has a validity period which encourages companies to improve their WSH capabilities progressively. Every applicant which renews its recognition from L3 onwards is required to take part in an online poll, which evaluates the effectiveness of bizSAFE and how the programme has benefitted the organisation and its employees. This is an ongoing process and the results are published every six months (see Annex B). In addition, ad-hoc surveys are conducted to measure the effectiveness of bizSAFE. In 2013, the WSH Institute commissioned an evaluation study that looked into the current programme management, stakeholders’ analysis and collected ground perceptions of companies in terms of their practises in risk management, their management’s commitments towards WSH and the business value of bizSAFE certification.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The bizSAFE programme was launched at the National WSH Campaign 2007 with more than 30 industry partners supporting the campaign that year. There were over 50 activities organised during the campaign month, with at least one activity for each target group from different industries. When the programme was launched, the WSH Council developed strategies to overcome challenges such as inculcating a safety-awareness culture; raising awareness on the new WSH Act and its statutory obligations; educating companies on the assistance scheme and resources that are available; and providing adequate and quality support in terms of resources in the initial stages. One of the initiatives that was rolled out to encourage companies to embark on bizSAFE was the Risk Management Assistance Fund (RMAF). RMAF was initiated to engage service providers and attract SMEs with limited resources. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also provides support by providing relevant content, resources as well as officers who can advise companies at events on bizSAFE. A pilot project was also launched with Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), Singapore's principal developer and manager of industrial estates and their related facilities, to assess and determine the current level of awareness amongst these smaller companies and the type of assistance they would require. To sustain awareness of the programme, the WSH Council published weekly advertorials in Lianhe Zaobao, a newspaper well-read by SMEs, for a month. The newspaper has a dedicated SME page every Thursday and the advertorials focused on communicating the benefits of the programme. The WSH Council and MOM also launched a series of advertisements in coffee shops that were located in industrial estates to reach out to workers and supervisors in SMEs. Lastly, an awards ceremony held annually to celebrate the achievements of the SMEs in WSH practices and recognise the best through bizSAFE Convention.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Since its launch in 2007, bizSAFE has received buy-in from more than 19,000 companies. This milestone signals that a bizSAFE membership is valued by businesses to enhance their competitive edge. In particular, companies in traditional sectors such as construction, marine and manufacturing find that bizSAFE improve their safety credentials. As of 31 August 2014, 19,073 bizSAFE Enterprises, 319 Partners and 19 Mentors have registered with the WSH Council. Meanwhile, the number of reported workplace fatalities and injuries has been trending down from 2007 to 2013 with the introduction of bizSAFE, supported by other WSH programmes organised and executed by MOM and the WSH Council. The workplace fatality rate has reduced from 2.9 per 100,000 employed persons in 2007 to 2.1 in 2012. In an ongoing online poll (Annex B) that bizSAFE members (1,012 respondents) partake when renewing their certifications from bizSAFE Level 3 onwards, the findings as of September 2013 were positive. 99% of the respondents indicated their WSH standards has improved and seen an improvement in morale among the employees with higher productivity and fewer absenteeism as a result of medical or hospitalisation leave. They also gained better recognition from client companies and public, and have better competitive edge in tendering for contracts where buyers require bizSAFE as a procurement requirement over non-bizSAFE companies. These companies also received services and advice by bizSAFE Partners and Mentors. In 2013, WSH Institute commissioned a study that looked into the current programme management, stakeholders’ analysis and collected ground perceptions of companies in terms of their practises in risk management, their management’s commitments towards WSH and the business value of bizSAFE certification. The study saw the participation of 1,652 companies comprising 868 bizSAFE enterprises , 522 non-bizSAFE SMEs, and 262 bizSAFE Partners/Mentors and potential clients of SMEs. The study showed that bizSAFE enterprises performed better than non-bizSAFE enterprises in terms of building capability in managing WSH risks and demonstrating commitment towards WSH. The client companies saw value in engaging bizSAFE companies and indicated higher willingness to pay more for their services over non-bizSAFE companies. Here are some of the key findings from the study. 9 in 10 bizSAFE Entererpises agreed that bizSAFE helped to improve safety and health of their workplace, and 75% would recommend others to join bizSAFE. 81% of client companies would prefer to engage bizSAFE Enterprises for future contracts because they are able to manage WSH better than non-bizSAFE companies. In addition, 97% of bizSAFE enterprises versus 83% of non-bizSAFE companies were aware of WSH risks in their workplaces. 61% of bizSAFE enterprises were involved their workers in risk assessment process and majority (84%) saw management staff taking part in WSH committee meetings.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
At the national level, we have close to 150,000 SMEs in Singapore. To date, the WSHC has managed to reach out to 19,000 SMEs. This leaves a sizeable number of organisations who can benefit from bizSAFE. Meanwhile, the funding (RMAF) mechanism has driven up the demand for consultancy services in risk assessment and RM capability building and since then, the pool of consultants in the market with the relevant skills has increased significantly. At the same time, consultancy cost has reduced to a level where it is affordable to most SMEs such that funding is no longer required. To ensure that risk management training remains affordable, the WSH Council has successfully placed bizSAFE Level 2 and Level 4 courses on the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) framework in 2013. These courses are made available at low cost with subsidies from the Skills Development Fund (SDF) - an assistance scheme offered by WDA as an incentive to companies to mount training programmes for employees. With an enlarged pool of consultants and competitively-priced training providers, and the availability of a low cost E-learning for bizSAFE Level 1, it now costs less for SMEs to build RM capability through bizSAFE as compared to that in 2007. At the launch of the year-long 2013 National Workplace Safety and Health Campaign, 37 government agencies pledged to a “Public Sector Commitment to Workplace Safety and Health”. Witnessed by Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong, these companies will emphasise workplace safety and health throughout the lifespan of their projects. One of the conditions of the pledge is to engage contractors with at least bizSAFE Level 3-equivalent recognition. The commitment is significant as public sector construction constitutes around 50% of the construction activity in Singapore. With the government’s support, bizSAFE continues to be sustainable and will continue to play a part to raise overall safety standards in the whole industry. The WSH Council has further tightened the requirements of the Risk Management (RM) audit guidelines, in order to sustain the integrity and quality of the programme, in 2013. Auditors are now required to be more specific in their audit assessments, to ensure that bizSAFE Level 3 recognition is credible, and that their checks are effective. This is part of the WSHC’s continuous effort to improve and sustain the quality and benefits of the bizSAFE programme. bizSAFE has also been extensively shared in various WSH international engagements such as Republic of Korea, India, Cambodia, Chile and Taiwan.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Today, bizSAFE has become a significant workplace safety icon in Singapore. It is indeed gratifying for the team to see the bizSAFE logo being displayed proudly in company banners, commercial vehicles, worksites, business collaterals and major newspaper supplements and advertorials as they marked key milestones in their company achievements (see Annex C). What the logo signifies to the industry at large is that they have risk management in place that complies with the WSH legislation, a risk management champion to drive its ongoing WSH efforts and top management that is committed to WSH in its organisation. Out of the 19,000 SMEs who have signed on with bizSAFE, more than 90% of the SMEs belong to the medium to high risk sectors. They include construction, marine, engineering, metal working, manufacturing, logistics and transport. What this means is that the level of participation by organisations in the lower risk segment is low, making up less than 10% of the bizSAFE Community. The inference is that businesses in this industry are still lacking in WSH awareness. This is important, given the industry’s diverse range of workers, which includes part-timers, the young and inexperienced in this sector. One of the learning as we promote bizSAFE to the lower risk workplaces is that employers and workers tend to view their work has minimal risks, and that accidents would not happen to them. However, it is when we take safety for granted and ignored good practices that accidents can happen. This can happen to anyone and in any industry, and this sector is no exception. This has allowed us to sharpen our focus in addressing issues such as complacency about workplace safety and health. This is our next area of focus as we move towards WSH 2018. With the increased interaction with SMEs, we have learnt that it is also important to place emphasis on workplace health as well. Hence, bizSAFE will be enhanced not only to emphasise safety but to highlight workplace health so that that all sectors across the industry can relate to this programme more holistically where integration between safety and health are concerned. For example, hotel housekeepers and banquet staff face the risk of incurring back injuries from carrying heavy tables and chairs. bizSAFE training course materials and consultancy by bizSAFE service providers will be enhanced so that health related issues will not be neglected and case studies will be industry specific. The WSH Council will also tighten the requirements of the Risk Management (RM) audit guidelines to include workplace health and the need to be more specific in their audit assessments. The workplace is a strategic place to introduce preventive programmes to protect as well as positively improve the health, safety and well-being of all employees (whether at work or off work). bizSAFE will continue to play its part in doing so.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Workpkace Safety and Health Council
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Winston Yew
Title:   Deputy Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   65-66924914
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   1500 Bendemeer Road #04-01 MOM Services Centre
Postal Code:   339946

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