Jurong Island firms join hands on work safety

Twenty-five companies on Jurong Island have pledged to work together to prioritise safety and health in their workplaces.

Through the Jurong Island Vision Zero Cluster, these companies will share best practices and innovations with one another. About 100 companies operate on the island.

At the cluster’s launch yesterday, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said workplace safety and health (WSH) standards on Jurong Island must be kept as high as possible as process operations there involve hazardous materials such as flammable petroleum products and corrosive chemicals.

“Any lapses in safety procedures may result in loss of lives and injuries. There will certainly be business losses as well,” he said.

For example, two years ago, an oil tank fire broke out on the island and took about five hours to be put out. While no one was hurt, precious time and resources were lost, he told about 100 company executives and staff at Jurong Town Hall.

The cluster is an initiative by the Jurong Island Vision Zero Working Group formed in February, while Vision Zero is a nationwide movement launched in 2015 to promote the mindset that all injuries and ill health at work are preventable.

Mr Lucas Ng, who chairs the working group, said companies in the cluster pledge to adopt five WSH measures, such as implementing pre-emptive measures and including all those in the company’s supply chain in WSH efforts.

Mr Ng, plant general manager at Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, said the group plans to have events like forums and dialogues from early next year, after first getting more firms to join the cluster.

The first 25 companies employ or contract about 30,000 workers.

In his speech, Mr Zaqy said the commitment by the companies’ senior management to prioritise safety and health will influence contractors and vendors as well.

“In the long term, good WSH management and performance is a competitive advantage and useful branding for companies and industries operating in Singapore… and Jurong Island in particular.”

He said he hoped other industries would be inspired to form their own versions of Vision Zero clusters.

One company in the new cluster is oil refinery Singapore Refining Company. Health, safety, environment and quality manager Adrian Ang shared some of its WSH strategies, such as moving from a “blame and punish” approach to a “learn and improve” approach three years ago.

For example, when a crane driver twisted his ankle while climbing down, the old approach would have concluded that the driver made the mistake of landing awkwardly.

By treating it as a learning experience, the team decided that workers needed to use a safer method to climb ladders.

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