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30 May 2022

On 29 April 2022, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad announced during the opening address at the National Workplace Safety and Health Campaign 2022 that the Ministry of Manpower (“MOM”) is embarking on a focused approach to target CEOs and Board members to be their companies’ own workplace, safety and health (“WSH”) champions.

Company leaders, CEOs and Board members have direct control and influence over their workplace resources and culture. Existing laws already require company leaders responsible in ensuring workers’ safety and health. MOM therefore seeks to provide better support by setting out clear expectations of what can be done to fulfil their legal obligations. In this regard, MOM and the Workplace Safety and Health Council are consulting the tripartite partners and industry associations to develop a new Approved Code of Practice (“ACOP”) for Company Directors’ WSH Duties under the Workplace Safety and Health Act (“Act”).

The ACOP aims to provide clarity and enhance ownership of CEOs and Board members’ WSH roles and duties, including introducing measures that are effective in preventing accidents, and practical and easy to implement. Examples could include having WSH as a regular item within the Board agenda, where near misses, accidents and their learning points are discussed internally. Another measure could be emphasising to employees the importance of upholding WSH and that remedial action will be taken against employees that flout WSH procedures.

In the event of an offence under the Act, compliance with these measures can be used in courts as evidence to show that reasonably practicable measures have been taken by company leaders. The courts can also take into account whether companies have ignored guidance in the ACOP in arriving at their decisions and penalties.

MOM targets to publish the ACOP by early 2023, and company leaders and workers are encouraged to participate in the engagement sessions in the coming months.

Reference materials

The opening speech is available on the MOM website www.mom.gov.sg.