Demerit point system for manufacturing sector sends strong signal on safety: Zaqy

Demerit point system for manufacturing sector sends strong signal on safety: Zaqy

The Straits Times - Singapore·2023-09-28 19:09

SINGAPORE – Extending the workplace safety demerit point system to the manufacturing sector here sends a strong signal to companies that there will be business implications if they do not instil a safety culture within their firms.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad told this to reporters on Thursday, three days before

Noting that the manufacturing sector was the biggest contributor to workplace deaths and major injuries in the first half of 2023, Mr Zaqy said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is focusing on bringing these numbers down.

The demerit point system has been used in the construction sector for years now, and it was toughened in 2022. Extending this to manufacturing allows MOM to “capture and cover a wider range of employers and work sites”.

Mr Zaqy said: “Manufacturing is a bit more broad-based because you find factories and small operations all over Singapore.

“That also means you need a regime like this to rein (companies) in... We don’t want to enforce only when it is too late.”

From October, manufacturing companies that accumulate sufficient demerit points due to safety violations will be temporarily banned from hiring foreign employees for up to two years.

While there is some apprehension about this new regime among companies, Mr Zaqy said there has been sufficient lead time for employers to adjust. “As long as you are safe, there is nothing to be worried about.”

He was speaking after a visit to Silesia Flavours South East Asia, where he was shown various safety measures that the food and beverage flavour manufacturer has implemented at its production facility in Boon Lay.

To reduce strain, for instance, back braces are given to employees whose jobs involve packing and moving boxes that can weigh up to 25kg. In 2019, the company bought machines to lift these boxes from the production line onto waiting forklifts to reduce the risk of injury.

Mr Zaqy noted how Silesia Flavours has also installed a special sound-proof cabinet for a milling machine in the company’s laboratory after taking in feedback from workers about the noise it produced.

“That’s really an attitude that we want to see from management – being aware, being enlightened, being able to think about the safety of their workers,” he said.

In a briefing to the media, Silesia Flavours called on other manufacturers to be certified under the Workplace Safety and Health Council’s five-step bizSafe programme, noting how the company’s productivity and reputation among customers have improved after it attained Level 4 this year.

Mr Zaqy said members of the public can also play a role in improving workplace safety by reporting unsafe practices to MOM, adding that this feedback has led to errant employers being taken to task.

“Rather than just being a bystander, make reports so that we can take action. That saves lives,” he added.


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