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ASSE Member in Singapore Outlines Country’s Cutting Edge Strategy to Reinforce Work Safety and Health and Reduce Injuries and Illnesses

Posted in on Tue, Jul 12, 2011

American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) member Suresh Navaratnam, director of policy, information and corporate service in the Occupational Safety and Health Division  (OSHD) of The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in Singapore, discussed the country’s  workplace safety and health framework and provided an in-depth look at the country’s initiatives to promote workplace safety and health for all in a recent interview featured in ASSE’s Spring 2011 edition of World Focus.  Singapore is currently operating on a workplace safety and health (WSH) 2018 strategy, designed to help reinforce a safety and health focus throughout the country to help reduce workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses.

Engaging companies to take action through program-based engagement (ProBE) is a priority for the OSHD, and since 2006, more than 9,000 companies in Singapore have taken the initiative to participate in the programs made available through the efforts of the MOM.  Businesses are steadily becoming engaged in efforts to promote a safety and health culture, and a widespread appreciation of the importance of being safe at work is becoming the new standard. Singapore has set a goal for 2018 to reduce the workplace fatality rate to below 1.8 in 100,000 workers and is working diligently toward that goal.

The country has also been a leader in its Working at Heights (WAH) initiatives.  Falls from heights account for approximately one third of all annual workplace fatalities in Singapore, leading safety professionals to devote significant time and resources to reduce risk and eliminate hazards.  In August 2009, a National WAH Taskforce was formed to address the concern of falls from heights at workplaces in Singapore.  The Taskforce is made up of experts from all industries and focuses on building strong capabilities, promoting benefits of WAH safety, and enhancing the intervention framework for WAH to review legislation and find ways to promote WAH safety to more businesses.

ASSE and the Singapore Institution of Safety Officers (SISO) have been working together to reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses to workers in both countries.  On June 14, 2010, SISO and ASSE signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on areas of mutual interest and benefit.  The agreement serves as a means to enhance and establish a framework for cooperative efforts, and ASSE and SISO are seeking opportunities for cooperative efforts in standards development, professional practice, professional development and community service.  Through this collaboration, both groups are learning about effective strategies for identifying hazards and reducing risks based on the unique businesses and conditions in each country.  SISO began in 1975 and has since grown to more than 500 members who are not only safety officers, but also specialists in occupational safety, health and environment (SH&E), fire safety, occupational hygiene and ergonomics.

In a two-part interview featured in the Spring 2011 issue of World Focus, the International Practice Specialty’s newsletter, Navaratnam focuses on current efforts to reduce worker injuries and illnesses, as well as future plans to continue working toward the country’s goal of drastically reducing workplace injuries and illnesses.

“Singapore’s workplace safety and health framework guides the management of WSH by all stakeholders – the government, industry, and employees.  The framework was designed to bring about a paradigm shift and to ingrain good work safety habits in all individuals in the workplace, “ said Navaratnam.

With more than 25 years of experience in the field of aviation safety and more than 4,000 hours as a professional aviator, Navaratnam is a distinguished safety professional and ASSE member.  He is a qualified accident investigator and a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators.  Navaratnam’s current responsibilities as Director of Policy, Information and Corporate Service in the OSHD of MOM include regulatory and policy aspects of workplace safety and health, as well as statistical evaluation and development of intervention strategies.

Overall, the current initiatives of Singapore’s safety organizations are paving the way for a bright future in the field of occupational safety and health. With worker fatalities on the decline and valuable training programs for hazard recognition and elimination becoming more prominent among the country’s businesses, Singapore’s WSH 2018 strategy is in full swing.

For a copy of World Focus featuring Suresh Navaratnam’s interview, please visit or contact ASSE Customer Service at  For more information about the International Practice Specialty, please visit  For more information about SISO, please visit

Founded in 1911 and celebrating its centennial, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the oldest professional safety society and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment.  Its more than 33,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, healthcare and education.  For more information, please go to and to view the new ASSE – A Century of Safety film go to





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