IOSH Singapore Networks evening 14-10-13

The Singapore Branch Chairman asked me to provide an outline of the recent Branch Network meeting held at the YMCA Singapore.

23 October 2013

My name is Augusta Nkem Nduka (IOSH Tech Member), am a Nigerian currently rounding up my Master program in HSE at University Technology, Malaysia. JB Campus. I would like to thank Darren (Branch Chairman) for introducing me to Gerard Hand (IOSH UK President) and Sarah Hamilton (IOSH International Network Director) at the branch meeting. Gerard asked me a few questions about my studies, career and my efforts in involving the branch activities, and during the conversation I felt very honoured and elated with the words of encouragement from both Gerard and Sarah.

The evening was very worthwhile my 3 hour journey from Johor Bahru in Malaysia to the YMCA in Singapore. There were 39 members and non members at the meeting and I can categorically say that the Presentations were very good and the Presenters also did justice to the slides with their enthusiastic way of delivering the information. Each of the presentations provided me vital added knowledge. The first speaker (Mr Zephan Chan) who gave a presentation with regards Occupational Health, elaborated that Risk Assessments and work activities focus heavily on the ‘safety’ aspects of the work task and not on the occupational health issues, and when the health issues are identified they are often not assessed with any substance or content as general competence of safety officers in this area is lacking. He also raised the concern that Safety Inspectors focus only on hazards that deal with safety without taking into consideration the health concerns. This has identified for me that when I conduct site inspections and risk management activities I will need to focus on both health and safety hazards at workplace. Zephan also identified that the Singapore target for Workplace Health Officer is 2000 and at present there are 30 as an approximate number, and encouraged Safety Professionals to look at training in Occupational Health.

The second speaker (Lim Ping) gave  excellent presentation on the ‘before and after’ at his work site in Malaysia; outlining his companies WSH vision and commitment – then following on with a slide show of ‘before/ after’ photos which clearly demonstrated with the right leadership and management commitment safety mind sets and cultures can be changed. This presentation also emphasised the importance of having cost analysis because when you are able to analyse the cost benefits of accident prevention to the management or contractor, they will understand that it is actually cheaper to prevent incidents as well as by having such safety systems in place the quality of the work and end product benefits – so the management are happy!!. I think everyone really enjoyed this presentation as it showed that being a safety professional we can make the difference at the work site and on many lives.

The third speaker (Lim Cheong) explained the relationship between the employer and employees by using the title ‘Principal’ as the direct employer of the employees. This presentation was in relation to the Singapore Legal Frame work and generated a lot of debate. Lim Cheong’s deliver of these sessions are very interactive and he managed to get a lot of involvement from the delegates attending. When I asked a question for clarification between Client, contractor and sub- contractor in this regard, several of the members help explain the position of each more clearly to me. However the debate when on for quite some time – as even with the Principle – Contractor – Sub-contractor considerations the relationship is contractual and everyone remains to have their duty of care.

In wrapping up the evening Gerard gave a short speech which he congratulated the Branch for their growth and development and praised the members for showing commitment as safety professionals and attending the evening; Gerard also reflected that Singapore was his First Branch he visited as President Elect last year; and the evening and his visit to the Singapore Branch will be his last visit to a IOSH Branch before handing over the presidency to Tim Briggs in November. Singapore gave Gerard the enthusiasm at the start and finished him off at the end!

It was a wonderful evening – I met new friends and colleagues- I met the IOSH President and International Network Director, there was some lovely food provided and even a fantastic IOSH Cake which was awesome in design especially the Helmet design. Then I went home 3hrs back to Malaysia – I am looking forward to the next IOSH Singapore Branch event and hope I will be able to make it.

Augusta Nduka

Group photo

Gerard with author

Branch cake