New funding help to get SME workers better prepared for terror threats and crises

SINGAPORE – Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will  get more help to prepare their staff for terror threats and crises.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is in talks with industry associations in five priority sectors – food and beverage, retail, entertainment, hotels and transport – to give them between $ 25,000 and $ 55,000 each, the ministry announced on Wednesday (Feb 7).

These funds will help the associations get SMEs to appoint MOM-registered representatives for SGSecure – the national push to get Singaporeans involved in the fight against terror – to train staff in basic first aid skills, and raise awareness about terrorism threats in the workplace.

The talks with the associations are expected to conclude by the end of June.

The amount each association receives will depend on their success in encouraging businesses to take part in the efforts.

The associations involved include the Singapore Nightlife Business Association, Singapore Hotel Association, Singapore Transport Association and Singapore School and Private Hire Bus Owners’ Association.

Speaking at the annual bizSafe convention at the Singapore Expo on Wednesday on the matter, Second Minister for Manpower and Home Affairs Josephine Teo said that “the threat of terrorism is real and closer than we think”.

“In this new security climate, businesses can no longer avoid making preparations for a possible attack,” she said. “The key will be to ensure that the risks are adequately managed and a proper recovery plan be in place should an incident occur.”

This comes after a safety programme called bizSafe was updated and launched in September last year to incorporate elements of SGSecure.

The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council is working with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and MOM on this.

The bizSafe programme was launched in 2007 to help SMEs build capabilities in managing workplace safety and health over several stages.

With last year’s updates to the programme, attendees for levels 1 to 3 of the programme learn how to respond to terror threats and incidents in their workplaces. They will also learn about the security considerations in risk management plans and WSH policies.

There are currently almost 30,000 companies under the bizSafe programme, an increase of over 15-fold from the 1,900 when it first started in 2007.

After last year’s enhancement, about 2,100 companies have come on board, said Mrs Teo. “We expect at least another 3,000 companies in these sectors to come on board the enhanced bizSafe programme and become SGSecure-ready in the next three years,” she said.

The new funding is aimed at getting more companies on the updated bizSafe.

At Wednesday’s event, 41 bizSafe awards were also given out to companies and individuals to recognise their efforts in creating a safe and healthy workplace.

Mrs Teo also noted that the number of deaths from workplace injuries in Singapore last year fell to a 13-year low, with 42 workers dying on the job.

It was the lowest level since 2004, when comparable records on worker fatalities were first kept.

“It is still sobering that 42 workers sustained fatal injuries, but the reduced rate of 1.2 per 100,000 is at least a meaningful improvement,” she said.

In 2007, the year bizSafe started, 63 workers died, a fatality rate of 2.9 per 100,000 employees.

The steady improvement over the last decade was due to a commitment of employers and employees to a “Vision Zero mindset” in which all injuries and illnesses are viewed as preventable, said Mrs Teo.

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