Speech by MOS Faishal Ibrahim at CDL 5-Star EHS Sports Challenege and Awards Cemeremony 2023

Nov 19, 2023

A very good morning, everyone. Congratulations to CDL on reaching its 60th Anniversary this year.

It is my pleasure to join you for CDL’s 5-Star Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) Sports Challenge and Awards Ceremony.

Today, we recognise and appreciate the hard work and commitment that everyone has put into championing workplace safety. We also reaffirm the paramount importance of safety, even amidst an evolving industry landscape.

Impetus for Industry Transformation

Indeed, our sector is in the midst of major transformation. Technological developments are advancing at an exponential rate, and we have seen a growing proliferation of these new technologies.

These offer immense potential to transform the way we design, build, and maintain our physical infrastructure.

We have been working hard to harness the potential and capture the emerging opportunities these technologies offer.

Most of you would already be familiar with the refreshed Built Environment Industry Transformation Map (BE ITM) that we launched last year.

This articulated our ambition for the Built Environment sector – one that is more productive, more sustainable, and more resilient.

This helps to set out how we intend to achieve this vision by transforming across every stage of the building life-cycle - from the way we procure, plan and design, to the way we build and maintain.

We have been making good progress in these efforts thanks to the support of industry partners, like yourselves.

For instance, CDL and its partners are leveraging a Common Data Environment (CDE) to issue Building Information Model (BIM) as part of their tender documents.

This allows all project stakeholders – from interested tenderers to the eventually appointed contractors – to access the same BIM as the single “source of truth” throughout the project cycle.

Importance of Safety

Today, I would like to touch on an aspect of transformation - worker safety. This is of paramount importance.

Unfortunately, there was a surge in workplace incidents last year as the sector raced to catch up with the backlog and pent-up demand following the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am heartened to see some improvements recently. The annualised the fatal injury rate has decreased from 4.4 per 100,000 workers in the first half of 2022 to 2.7 in the first half of this year.

However, every fatality is one too many. We must press on in our efforts to raise safety within our sector.

As part of the Multi-Agency Workplace Safety and Health Taskforce – or MAST, for short – MND and BCA have been working closely with MOM and industry partners to develop targeted measures to improve workplace safety for the construction sector.

This includes strengthening ownership of senior management on safety-related incidents through additional training and holding leaders personally accountable for major incidents.

As a major developer, the Government has recently announced further safety measures in our procurement processes.

This includes raising the minimum weightage for safety components in our construction tenders as well as requiring the use of mature WSH technologies, like electronic Permit-to-Work systems, where relevant.

We will also be introducing a bonus scheme for higher value projects, which I understand that CDL already practices. This rewards contractors with good safety performance and aims to incentivise better safety practices amongst all project parties.

Everyone has a Role to Play

These measures recognise that developers play an important role to shape behaviour of stakeholders in their value chain, including better safety practices for project parties.

Beyond developers, consultants, contractors, and workers all have a key role to play in enhancing safety as well. For instance:

Consultants contribute to risk assessments at the planning and design stages. This includes conceptualising construction methods that minimise the need for on-site manual labour and incorporating safety into the building design.

Contractors are responsible for implementing safety measures on-site. This includes proper maintenance of equipment, deploying workplace safety and health (WSH) technologies as well as ensuring adequate training and supervision for all workers.

Workers are essential in promoting workplace safety too. At the baseline, workers must adhere to safety procedures on site. But we want to go beyond that and empower our workers to take proactive steps to minimise on-site risks even more or call out risky behaviour when they see it.

I am glad to see many of your already prioritising safety in your everyday work. Take Mr Muthusingam Suriyaprakash as an example.

Mr Suriyaprakash is an employee of Unison Construction Pte Ltd and has been working on the Amber Park project since the project started.

He is a true safety champion. On top of holding himself to high safety standards, he actively participates in the mass toolbox meetings with site supervisors to share his observations and suggestions on how to improve the safety of on-site operations.

He looks out for his peers and is well-liked by his peers and supervisors alike. Once, he noticed that his coworker did not observe the safe work procedures while working at height. Concerned, he reached out to his coworker and helped him correct his working method.

Mr Suriyaprakash goes above and beyond to uplift safety on-site. His compassion, diligence and efforts have not gone unnoticed.

Along with several other safety champions like him, he will be receiving the Safe Worker Award later. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!

Inculcating a Strong Safety Culture

It is not enough for individuals to work in silos.

As we heard from Mr Suriyaprakash’s story, it is important for workers to have frank and open conversations with their supervisors.

Workers’ observations of dangerous or risky practices on-site and suggestions on how to improve these practices are critical to uplifting safety outcomes.

We must encourage more of such feedback.

It is also important to set the right culture amongst all individuals in project teams. We need to inculcate a culture of trust.

So that, like Mr Suriyaprakash’s colleague, when mistakes or non-adherence to safe procedures are pointed out, we receive this feedback gratefully and constructively, rather than getting defensive.

Sports events, like today’s, are wonderful opportunities for workers to put all their differences aside and get to know each other and strengthen trust.

Just like how we look out for our teammates when playing sports, better communication between project stakeholders and workers on the ground can help to pre-empt issues before they arise.

This can translate into better outcomes on-site too.

Call to Action

Transforming the sector towards greater safety will be an on-going effort and require all hands-on-deck. I look forward to working with you to create a safer workplace for all. Thank you.