Speech by Senior Minister of State for Transport, Dr Amy Khor at the SBS Transit Inaugural Safety Symposium 2024

10 May 2024Speeches
Mr Jeffrey Sim, Group CEO of SBS Transit,
Mr Silas Sng, Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, and Divisional Director for the Occupational Safety and Health Division, Ministry of Manpower
Mr Christopher Koh, General Manager, Workplace Safety and Health Council
Distinguished guests, 
Ladies and gentlemen,

1.     Good afternoon. Let me thank SBS Transit for organising this inaugural Rail and Bus Safety Symposium today to raise further awareness of the importance of workplace safety in the public transport industry. This is indeed a key area of focus as public transportation is an essential service where an average of about seven million trips are made per day. Singaporeans’ reliance on public transport means that as transport operators, workers and regulators, we have a great responsibility, to do our best to ensure that our commuters can get to their destinations and also get home, quickly, conveniently and safely.  

2.     This is especially true as the work environment in the public transport sector is fast paced, demanding and dynamic. Transport workers have a tough job, and our responsibility to ensure safety is therefore not only to commuters, but also to all employees and fellow workers. Ensuring employee safety is paramount to protect lives and limbs and enable workers to perform their roles confidently and effectively.  

3.     Safety symposiums such as this, serve as platforms for networking, knowledge exchange, and to expand our horizons. The focus for this year’s symposium is on leveraging partnerships and technology as an enabler to enhance workplace safety. I would like to encourage each one of us to take this opportunity to learn and be inspired to enhance the safety of our individual workplaces, which in turn will help improve overall industry safety. 

Workplace Injuries and Fatalities Hit Record Low in 2023

4.     According to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore’s workplace fatality rate per 100,000 workers fell from 1.3 in 2022 to 0.99 in 2023. This is a significant achievement as only four countries in the world, namely the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Sweden have consistently achieved such a rate. 

5.     Non-fatal major injuries at the workplace also fell from 614 in 2022 to 590 cases in 2023. Excluding 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, these were the lowest recorded fatality and major injury rates in the past decade. This reflects the collective dedication by our businesses, industry associations, unions, workers, and government agencies towards strengthening workplace safety in Singapore.

6.     We must, however, not rest on our laurels. We should always aspire towards a zero-accident rate. Regular reviews and updating of our safety protocols, to ensure that our systems and procedures remain relevant and effective, is necessary to progress towards this goal.

Leveraging Partnerships to Enhance Workplace Safety

7.     To meet the demands of the modern workplace, organisations need to constantly evolve and adapt their safety protocols through  partnerships with various stakeholders. This allows us to tap on each other’s experiences, resources, and expertise to enhance capabilities and create a strong culture of safety within and across organisations. 

8.     Today’s Safety Symposium showcases prime examples of how partnerships can drive innovation and improve workplace safety. Slips, Trips and Falls is one of the top five causes of deaths at work. As such, I am heartened to hear that SBS Transit has established a Slip, Trip and Fall Workgroup with its business partners and contractors. The Workgroup proactively identifies potential hazards and unsafe work behaviour on SBS Transit’s premises, so that they can be promptly addressed. Through the Workgroup, SBST’s partners and contractors also have access to relevant training for their employees, in identifying safety issues and developing their own safety programmes. 

9.     I am also heartened to note that SBS Transit will be formalising five new partnerships later this afternoon through Memoranda of Understanding (MOU). I understand that under SBS Transit’s MOU with Ipsotek, you will be exploring how Artificial Intelligence and Video Analytics technologies can be used to enhance monitoring of CCTV footage, to trigger alerts automatically when safety or security issues are detected. Through your MOU with KABAM Robotics, SBS Transit is looking to deploy a robot at your MRT stations and bus interchanges that can act as a safety ambassador by broadcasting safety messages, while also cleaning the premises. Such valuable partnerships will allow SBS Transit to leverage new and existing technologies to improve commuter safety. I look forward to seeing these new partnerships bear fruit and grow over the next few years.

10.    Workplace safety is also an area where our strong tripartite relations can play a crucial role. For example, the Tripartite Oversight Committee on Workplace Safety and Health has been partnering  the Land Transport Authority and their contractors to promote good workplace safety and health practices. Through this collaboration, visual and behavioural detection devices have been installed on machinery used at worksites to provide real-time feedback to help the operators stay alert and focused. Coaching sessions are also arranged for the workers to teach them how to manage their own health and safety.  

Technology as an Enabler to Improve Workplace Safety 

11.    Besides partnerships, technology and innovation are increasingly  important means of improving and promoting workplace safety, and creating healthier work environments for our workers.  In Singapore, all four public transport bus operators have introduced telematics technology to their bus fleet to help monitor their Bus Captain’s driving performance, such as braking, accelerating, speeding and more. With this data, the Bus Captains are able to objectively see the areas they need to improve in, thereby enhancing the safety and comfort of their passengers onboard. 

12.    Indeed, one of the key uses of technology is to provide real-time feedback and assessment of potential safety issues, thereby allowing necessary measures to prevent accidents or injuries. 

13.    Both SBS Transit and SMRT have rolled out track intrusion detection systems on their LRT stations, which leverage technologies like Artificial Intelligence and video analytics to trigger a timely response when a person enters the tracks. This is also an example of how our rail operators have learnt from best practices elsewhere. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC), who are here with us today, was the first in the world to develop an in-house Track Intrusion Detection System for their MRT stations without platform screen doors, to enhance the safety of their passengers and staff. Their system uses infrared detectors and Laser Measurement Sensors to detect movement on the tracks and the platform areas adjacent to the tracks. When an intrusion is detected, the system promptly alerts the control centre and gives a clear warning to incoming train drivers to reduce their speed and stay alert. This was a major inspiration for both SBS Transit and SMRT.

14.    The possibilities of today’s technologies are endless, and as operators and transport workers, you are equipped with the ground and operational knowledge to make the best use of them to eliminate or significantly reduce hazards at the workplace. I look forward to the sharing sessions by our partners and also viewing the technological innovations at today’s symposium. I hope that today’s session will inspire more of you to embark on innovative workplace safety initiatives. 

Concluding Remarks

15.    In closing, as members of the rail and bus sector, we have a duty not only to ourselves, but also to our loved ones, our colleagues, and the commuters we serve. Working together to create a safer workplace, and to ensure that every journey is a safe one, is a core mission for us. I urge all of us to take this opportunity to recommit ourselves to safety – to build a strong workplace safety culture where safety is a way of life, a value that guides our actions and decisions each day. 

16.    Thank you once again and I wish all of you a fulfilling symposium ahead.


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