Measures to protect workers from excessive heat

Parliamentary Question, 5 Nov 2019

https://www.wshc.sg/wps/portal/!ut/p/a1/04_Sj9CPykssy0xPLMnMz0vMAfGjzOJ9_E1MjByDDbzdPUIMDRyNfA08QsyNDYPNTIAKInErcA4zJk6_AQ7gaEBIf7h-FD4lYBeAFeCxwks_Kj0nPwns3UjHvCRji3T9qKLUtNSi1CK90iKgcEZJSUGxlaqBqkF5ebleen5-ek6qXnJ-rqoBNi0Z-cUl-hGoKvULckMjDLJMc8p8HBUBf10x_A!!/dl5/d5/L2dBISEvZ0FBIS9nQSEh/?action=cmsPublicView&cmsId=C-2015030603837&tabId=C-2015030603838

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Manpower (a) how does heat stress arising from climate change impact upon work productivity; (b) what is the number of heat stroke and dehydration cases in the last three years; © how does the Ministry ensure that employers in construction, marine and public works protect workers against excessive heat; (d) whether the Ministry will consider requiring employers to record incidents of heat stroke and dehydration; and (e) whether the Ministry will develop workplace guidelines on heat stress, including that requiring of higher water intake and longer rest periods for affected employees.

Mrs Josephine Teo: In the last three years, 10 workers suffered injuries caused by heat stress or work-related heat disorders, of which one was fatal. They comprised less than 0.03% of all workplace injuries and occupational diseases in the same period.

MOM together with the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council, has developed the WSH Guidelines on Managing Heat Stress in the Workplace. The guidelines inform employers to conduct risk assessments associated with heat stress and the precautionary actions they should take to prevent heat stress at work. These include acclimatising newly arrived workers who come from colder climates, providing regular rest breaks at shaded areas, making cool drinking water accessible, and educating workers on the symptoms and seriousness of heat-related disorders.

The WSH Council has also been disseminating information on heat-related safety and health risks through its website, the WSH bulletin[1] , as well as collaterals such as the Heat Stroke Card. Heat stress is also included in the WSH Council’s Total WSH Programme.

Total WSH consultants are expected to advise companies on what they can do to protect workers from heat stress.

Heat stroke and dehydration are already included in the types of work incidents that are reportable. From 1 September 2020, the reporting requirement will be extended to incidents that result in any instance of MC or light duty.

Note(s) to question 13:

[1] There are about 70,000 subscribers to the bulletin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and climate change in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

Follow Anthea Ong on her public page at www.facebook.com/antheaonglaytheng

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.