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News Recap

News Recap – 22 Aug to 28 Aug

28 Aug 2020

1. Addendum to President's Address: New Insurance Scheme for Migrant Workers' Medical Bills; Better Wages for Locals a Key Priority

An insurance programme will be developed to help employers manage unexpectedly large medical expenses of migrant workers, said Manpower Minister Josephine Teo on Wednesday (Aug 26).  

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will also carefully consider the cost-sharing model for higher standards in migrant worker dormitories, even as a stronger system of medical support for the workers is built, she added.  

"As important as it is to safeguard the health and wellness of our workers, we must also ensure the higher costs are sustainable," Mrs Teo said in her ministry's addendum to the President's earlier speech, setting out its priorities for the new term of government.

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2. Singapore Cuts SHN Duration to 7 Days for Low-Risk Arrivals from Malaysia, Vietnam, and More 

From 1 September 2020, Singapore will allow general travel to and from Brunei Darussalam and New Zealand, as well as travel for overseas studies, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced on Friday (21 August).    

Additionally, effective the same day, travellers from low-risk regions/countries will only have to undergo a seven-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN), down from the usual 14 days.

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3. Shell Picks Singapore Refinery as First Site Globally to Pilot Virtual Manufacturing Tech 

Royal Dutch Shell will start a four-year pilot project at its Pulau Bukom refinery to implement the Digital Twin, an advanced manufacturing site technology that is expected to boost productivity, reliability and safety.    

The Digital Twin - when fully implemented in 2024 - will be a complete virtual representation of the physical elements on the site, with the ability to dynamically respond to changes in conditions on the site, the oil and gas giant said in a statement on Thursday (Aug 27).  

Shell said Pulau Bukom's position as an integrated oil and petrochemicals hub in Asia-Pacific, strong track record in piloting path-breaking digitisation projects and long history were reasons why it was selected to pioneer the Digital Twin.

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4. Addendum to President's Address: Singapore to Continue Investing in Technology and Innovation to Fuel Growth

To help the economy recover from the severe blows of Covid-19, Singapore will keep investing in technology and innovation to safeguard its competitive edge globally and create opportunities for workers and businesses.  

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat made the point on Wednesday (Aug 26) when he stressed the continuing importance of science and technology (S&T) as an engine of growth.  

Research, innovation and enterprise in Singapore will help to transform the economy to create more jobs for Singaporeans, added Mr Heng in the National Research Foundation's (NRF) addendum to the President's Address. He chairs the Foundation.  

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5. Singapore will Push for Sustainable Growth, Further Strengthen Social Safety Nets: President Halimah

Singapore will make a “major push for sustainable growth”, while further strengthening its social safety nets, said President Halimah Yacob on Monday (Aug 24) at the opening of the nation’s 14th Parliament.  

President Halimah has mentioned that Singapore will reimagine how we plan our city, redesign urban mobility and grow using less resources in a low-carbon future. She also mentioned that Singapore will push for green financing and sustainable infrastructure development across the region, to tap on Asia’s growth while protecting the environment. 

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6. Making Singapore Sustainable

From safeguarding limited natural resources to mitigating the impact of buildings on the environment, local companies have recognised the roles they can play and have stepped up to the challenge.    

Global water technology company Xylem has been a part of the Singapore's water story since 1982, and had installed more than 320 sensors in the country's potable water supply pipelines to monitor the performance of the network and respond swiftly in case of abnormalities related to pressure variations, water quality issues, and leakage.

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7. Fully Flexible Work Arrangements - Are Employees For or Against Them?

Having a fully flexible working arrangement could change how people work – e.g. gone are the 9-5 working days, and it will come a set of working hours tailor-made to an employee's needs. Furthermore, this could mean lesser reliance on the office environment, and more access to working from anywhere, as long as targets, goals and deliverables are achieved.    

Nearly eight in 10 employees (79%) surveyed recently are in favour of such an arrangement, Perkbox has noted.    

Of the 1,600 respondents, close to nine in 10 (85%) said having such policies would improve work-life balance, while slightly more than half (53%) believed it could make employees more engaged and productive; and 50% said it would allow them to feel more in control of their own workloads.

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8. Singapore's MOM Looks to Raise the Salary Criteria for EPs and S Passes

In its addendum to the President's address 2020, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM) noted that further adjustments to the country's foreign workforce policies will be made to reflect the changed conditions in the employment market caused by COVID-19. This includes increasing the salary criteria for Employment Passes (EP) and S Passes.    

According to the addendum, Singapore's foreign workforce policies have been intended to support economic growth, so as to create good jobs for Singaporeans. Regular calibrations are made to enable firms to access the manpower they need while ensuring a strong Singaporean core.    

As such, Singapore has among the highest proportion of locals in the workforce employed in professional, managerial, executive and technician (PMET) jobs - nearly six in 10 locals in the country's workforce today are employed in PMET jobs. A strong Singaporean core has also been created, with nearly seven locals employed in PMET roles, for every one EP holder.

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9. How to Maintain a Good Culture Amid High Growth

“Leaders won’t be successful if they're propping up values that don't ring true for everyone”    

Airbnb, one of the most celebrated hypergrowth companies from the era, knows this all too well. A pioneer of the ‘sharing economy,’ the home rental business was privately valued at US$31bn before COVID-19. But as the travel industry was ground to a halt, the company lost $1bn.                

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ensuing social unrest – and now, the recession – organisations are beginning to see how the values they’d cemented during periods of high growth are standing the test of a complex and multifaceted crisis.      

Key takeaways from this article:  

  • Companies pledging to do better, must put in the effort to do so
  • Values versus Virtues – which is more important?

 

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10. Join the SMF's Webinar to Learn Ways to Implement SMM at Your Workplace

As companies move into a new normal after the Circuit Breaker, they are now more concerned with ensuring that their workplace is in compliance with the Safe Management Measures (SMM).  

With the support of the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) has come up with a webinar on SMM and WSH for companies in the manufacturing sector. Join the webinar to find out ways on how you can properly implement SMM at your workplace.  

Through the sharing of good practices, the webinar also seeks to encourage companies to continue keeping WSH as a top priority in their daily operations, while integrating SMM into their existing WSH framework.  

Date: 9 September 2020 (Wednesday)

Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm  

Register here.

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11. WSH Council Urges All to Play a Part in Preventing FFH Workplace Accidents

Falls from height (FFH) remain a major contributor to workplace deaths. In 2018-2019, FFH alone averaged 18.7% of all fatal injuries. That is to say, almost one-fifth of the total workplace deaths were due to falls from height. FFH also made up 10.9% of all major injuries and 4.8% of all minor injuries on average over these two years.  

To assist employers in addressing the high incidence of FFH cases, the WSH Council has put together a list of accident advisories for fatal FFH-related accidents from 2018-2019, each containing valuable lessons with situation-specific recommendations to prevent the recurrence of similar accidents.

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12. Accident Advisory: Worker Caught Between Lorry and Forklift

On 28 May 2020, a worker was within his forklift, attempting to open the door of a lorry that was beside his forklift, when the forklift suddenly reversed, trapping the worker between the door of the lorry and the chassis of the forklift. The injured worker was conveyed to the hospital where he eventually succumbed to his injuries.  

Recommendation

Persons such as employers and principals in control of similar workplaces with forklift operations are advised to consider the following risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:

  • Forklift pre-operation check
  • Competent forklift operator
  • Forklift servicing and maintenance
  • Worker communication
  • Work supervision
  • Use presence detection technology  

Risk Assessment

Conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise when operating a forklift. The RA should cover, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Possibility of accidental forklift movement and the measures in place to prevent accidental movement;
  • Possibility of operator entrapment (i) should the forklift overturn, or (ii) when working next to a stationary object or another vehicle; and
  • Safe work procedure for getting on and off the forklift operator seat.

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13. Accident Advisory: Worker Fell Through Floor Opening

On 3 August 2020, a group of workers was carrying out Addition & Alteration (A&A) works on the second storey of a building. When two of the workers tried to remove the wooden planks on the floor, one of them fell through a floor opening under the planks and landed on the first storey. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

Recommendation

Stakeholders, in control of similar workplaces and work activities, such as occupiers, principals and employers are advised to consider the following risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:

  • Covered floor opening
  • Barricading of hazardous area
  • Risk communication and WSH awareness

Risk Assessment

Employers and contractors are reminded to conduct a thorough risk assessment before starting A&A works to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise. Recognise hazards associated with building interior works such as unprotected edges or openings and address the possibility of falling from height. Occupiers and employers are reminded of the need to establish a fall prevention plan and to work closely with their principals and contractors to ensure the safety of all work areas.  

For floor openings, key measures include installing secure covers, erecting suitable barriers, placing warning signs and deploying a travel restraint or fall arrest system. To prevent accidents, it is important that on-site rectifications are carried out as soon as possible once an unsafe condition is identified.

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