Public Consultation on proposed amendments to the Workplace Safety and Health Act

Ministry of Manpower

Workplace Policy and Strategy Division, Ministry of Manpower

Consultation Period: 28 Jun 2017 - 25 Jul 2017
Status: Closed
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Detailed Description

INTRODUCTION

2. In 2006, MOM enacted the WSHA based on three guiding principles: (i) strengthen industry ownership of workplace safety and health (WSH) outcomes; (ii) ensure sufficiently high penalties to deter non-compliance; and (iii) require stakeholders to eliminate and reduce risks at source. 

3. The workplace fatality rate has declined from 3.1 per 100,000 workers in 2006 to 1.8 in 2014, but crept up to 1.9 in 2015 and 2016.  In response to the stagnating performance, a “WSH 2018 Plus” plan was put together in 2016.  It seeks to improve WSH performance by further strengthening industry ownership of WSH outcomes, and enhancing deterrence through more stringent WSH penalties. Amendments to the WSHA are proposed to support this plan.
 
KEY FEATURES OF PROPOSED WSHA AMENDMENTS

Strengthen Industry Ownership

(a) Allow public release of an incident learning report

5. To prevent recurrence of similar incidents, it can be beneficial to share with industry the detailed investigation findings, including the root causes and recommendations, before prosecutorial actions are taken. To facilitate this, we propose to amend the WSHA to allow the Commissioner for WSH (Commissioner) to make public an incident learning report when necessary, at such time and in such manner as he thinks fit.
 
6. We understand that affected parties may have concerns, particularly if prosecutorial actions are subsequently taken against them. The early release of such findings may prejudice their positions in civil and criminal court proceedings. To address these concerns, we recommend to render the incident learning report inadmissible in any legal proceedings, and to be referenced solely for learning purposes.

7. Following the WSHA amendments, we will promulgate regulations to outline a process for affected parties to comment on the draft report before its release. The regulations shall also set out the formation of an independent team to undertake investigation for such reports, separate from the investigation to establish criminal liability. 

Enhance Deterrence

(b) Increase maximum fine for breach of Subsidiary Legislation 

8. The maximum fine under the WSHA was raised by 1.5 times from $200,000 to $500,000, when the Factories Act (FA) was replaced by the WSHA in 2006. However, the maximum fine under the WSHA subsidiary legislation (SL) was set at a maximum of $20,000, benchmarked to the old FA penalty for offences with potential for harm but where no harm was actually inflicted. This has not been reviewed since the WSHA was enacted. 

9. To enhance deterrence, we recommend increasing the maximum fine under the SL by 1.5 times to $50,000. The new penalty will only be applied to the most serious SL offences that could result in death, serious injury, or dangerous occurrence. We do not intend to increase the penalties for other SL offences.

Technical Amendments

(c) Remove the requirement for the Commissioner to accredit WSH training providers

10. Instead of maintaining an independent accreditation framework, MOM is progressively migrating the accreditation of WSH training providers to nationally recognised training standards by the SkillsFuture Singapore and Singapore Accreditation Council. This will complete by end of 2018. We will therefore remove the requirement for the Commissioner to accredit WSH training providers, with effect from 1 January 2019.

(d) Extend personal liability protection 

11. Under the WSHA, the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, inspectors and authorised examiners are accorded protection from legal action for equipment damages during a prescribed examination or test. The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner are also protected from legal action for duties in relation to a remedial order or stop-work order. To align with other legislation , we propose to extend the scope of personal liability protection for the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, inspectors and authorised officers, to anything done with reasonable care and in good faith in the execution of their duties under the WSHA.

TIMELINE

12. We target for the legislative changes to take effect by December 2017. Only the removal of the requirement for the Commissioner to accredit WSH training providers shall take effect from 1 January 2019.

PERIOD OF CONSULTATION

13. MOM hereby invites members of the public to provide feedback on the proposed amendments to the WSHA as outlined above. The consultation exercise will be held from 28 June 2017 to 25 July 2017.

FEEDBACK CHANNELS

14. We seek your support to ensure that the consultation exercise is productive and focused, and would like to request that respondents:

a. Identify yourself and the organisation you represent (if applicable), as that would assist in our understanding of the impact of the proposed changes on different stakeholder groups; 

b. Make your comments clear and concise; 

c. Identify the specific proposal you are commenting on, and provide your comment on how the proposals/features can be improved or made clearer; and 

d. As far as possible, explain your points with illustrations and examples. 

15. Please submit your feedback through this email address: mom_consultations@mom.gov.sg [Subject Heading: Consultation on Amendments to WSHA (2017)] so that it reaches us directly and facilitates the process of consideration.

16. Alternatively, you can also send your comments through post to: 

Workplace Policy & Strategy Division (Attn: Occupational Safety & Health Unit)
Ministry of Manpower, Singapore 
18 Havelock Road, #06-02
Singapore 059764

17. Please send your comments by 25 July 2017, 6pm. We seek your understanding that comments received after the deadline will not be in time for incorporation to the amendments to the WSHA.

SUMMARY OF RESPONSES

18. All feedback received will be taken into consideration. However, we regret that we will not be able to address every single feedback received. Instead, we will consolidate and publish a summary of the key comments received, together with our responses, on the REACH website after the consultation exercise closes. All feedback will be treated with confidentiality and we will not disclose the identity of the person(s) providing the feedback.

19. Thank you.