WORKPLACE SAFETY & HEALTH (WSH) UPDATES FOR HEALTHCARE SECTOR
Message from Mr Foo Hee Jug, CEO, Jurong Health Services, Chairman, WSHC (Healthcare) Committee
The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council (click here) was established on 1 April 2008. Led by key industry leaders, the Council works closely with the Ministry of Manpower and other government agencies, unions, professional bodies, associations and industry to develop strategies to raise WSH standards in Singapore. To fulfill this objective, the Council put in place strategies to build industry capabilities, set acceptable practices and promote WSH.
To support the functions of the Council, industry committees have been formed to address the specific WSH challenges in various sectors. One of the industry committees is the WSH (Healthcare) Committee. The Committee, which I chair, was formed to identify, champion and oversee the implementation of initiatives to improve workplace safety and health standards of the healthcare sector. The list of members for this Committee is attached in Annex A.
Keep updated with the initiatives rolled out by this Committee and key changes in regulations that would affect the healthcare sector.
The key updates are:
A. Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act
The WSH Act covers all workplaces from September 2011. The key principles of the Act are to reduce risks at source, increase industry stakeholders' ownership and focus on achieving good WSH outcomes and systems rather than complying with prescriptive requirements. While it is heartening to note that most major healthcare institutions are aligned to the new Act since 2008, there are still a number of small and medium healthcare organizations that need assistance.
B. Building Risk Management (RM) Capabilities – bizSAFE
Another key regulation for compliance is the WSH (Risk Management) Regulations which require all stakeholders to eliminate or minimize the risks they create. The Council has developed a Code of Practice on RM (click here) to provide guidance on implementing risk management, including the identification of hazards, evaluating risk, and putting in place control measures. To assist organization to build capabilities in managing the WSH risks, a five step programme, bizSAFE (click here), was created. This programme compliments OHSAS 18000 or SS506. To-date, more than 8000 companies are onboard bizSAFE.
B. Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)
GHS (click here) is a United Nations (UN)-developed system for chemical classification and hazard communication through harmonized provisions for standardized labels and safety data sheets (SDS). It was endorsed by the UN World Summit for Sustainable Development in 2002. At the 14th APEC Ministerial Meeting in Oct 2002, APEC Trade Ministers also set its stamp of approval on the GHS for APEC-wide implementation, including Singapore. The timeframe for all chemical users in Singapore is Dec 2012 (for single substances) and Jun 2015 (for mixtures).
C. Committee Initiatives
Since its formation, the WSH (Healthcare) Committee has rolled out a number of initiatives. The key highlights are:
(i) Healthcare Sector WSH Baseline Study (click here)
The key objective of the Study was to ascertain the WSH compliance level and perceptions. 1050 participants, ranging from top management to employees, took part in the Study in 2009/2010. Workplace aggression was flagged out as one of the key issues in the healthcare sector. Addressing this issue, a seminar on managing workplace aggression was held at the Ministry of Health – Healthcare Quality Improvement Conference on 10 October 2011.
(ii) Healthcare Guidelines (click here) and Checklists
The Guidelines highlight common work hazards faced by healthcare workers and recommend best practices to control or prevent these hazards. The principles of safety and health management and information on the establishment of workplace safety and health programmes are also provided in the Guidelines. A series of bite-size checklists developed based on the Guidelines would also be launched soon.
(iii) Healthcare Best Practices (click here)
Fifteen best practices from various hospitals are shared and posted on WSHC Best Practices webpage. The Committee will continue to put in efforts to encourage healthcare institutions to contribute and share their WSH best practices.
D. WSH Council Facebook
Riding on the social media, the Council has created a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/WSHCouncil. The Council facebook is periodically updated with news, events and advisories. One such related advisories related to healthcare is on the use of alcohol hand rubs containing glycerol or other emollients to reduce incidences of healthcare staff developing skin rash.
The WSH Healthcare Committee will be working through member representatives who may be from your organization. Your support in our journey to create a better workplace for the healthcare sector is important to us. Please let us have your feedback or suggestions through the secretariat of WSHC (Healthcare) Committee via email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org