Occupational health

News from the Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health


Development of the Construction Safety Audit Scoring System (ConSASS) and the WSH Appraisal Tool in Singapore

Dr HO Sweet Far, Senior Consultant (OSH Specialist), (HO_Sweet_Far@mom.gov.sg), Ministry of Manpower, Singapore; Mr CHAN Yew Kwong, Deputy Director (OSH Inspectorate); Mr GO Heng Huat, Deputy Director (OSH Specialist); Mr Alvian TAN, Senior Specialist (WSH Institute); Mr LIM Ronnie, Senior Specialist (OSH Specialist)

The Occupational Safety and Health Division, Ministry of Manpower, Singapore has developed the Construction Safety Audit Scoring System (ConSASS), an audit tool that provides an assessment of the occupational safety and health management system (OSHMS) at a construction site. As a Collaborating Centre within the Workplan of the WHO CC’s Network in Occupational Health, this division has spearheaded the first attempt by the construction industry in Singapore to formulate a more universal audit tool that may be applicable to most worksites.

In Singapore, construction worksites with project contract sum of S$30 million or more are required to appoint an independent external auditing organization to audit the OSHMS of the worksite at least once every 6 months. Approved safety auditing organizations are required to adhere to an established audit protocol when conducting audit of the OSHMS in a worksite. However, the existing auditing checklists, which vary among the audit organizations, may not adequately provide a good and consistent indication of the level of safety maturity of the contractors. As approved auditing organizations use their own scoring system to grade the performance of the implementation of OSHMS at different worksites, developers are also unable to identify the better contractors during the tendering process. As a result, there is a lack of strong business imperatives for contractors to take a serious view towards safety audits. In addition, the construction sector remains one of the riskier sectors in Singapore. In 2010, , the industry accounted for more than half of all workplace fatalities, with a fatality rate of 8.1 per 100,000 workers.. The apparent lack of sustained improvements in OSH performance coupled with a weak OSH culture in the industry has made it more important to increase our efforts to improve the OSH performance of the industry. This has brought on impetus for the development of a robust and comprehensive rating system to raise standards of the construction sector.

Central to ConSASS is the audit checklist and score card that are used for the evaluation of the effectiveness and development status of the worksite’s OSHMS being audited. These were developed in partnerships with academic institutions and various stakeholders such as Building and Construction Authority, Nanyang Technological University, the then Workplace Safety and Health Construction Advisory Sub-committee, and various auditing companies. The checklist, containing approximately 300 questions, is referenced after local OSHMS standards and the Universal Assessment Instrument (UAI) tool developed by the University of Michigan and published by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). During the final phase of development, trials were carried out with over 24 worksites with the assistance rendered by private auditors. Training on the use of ConSASS was also provided to auditors.

With a standardized audit checklist and a common audit scoring system, ConSASS enhances the consistency in the auditing process. By providing a clear overview of the strengths and weaknesses of their OSHMS, this allows for cross comparison across worksites in terms of the capabilities in managing safety and health risks. It also helps in promoting OSH standards in Singapore by enabling stakeholders to create a profile of OSH performance for the construction industry.

ConSASS is a key tool to use in working towards the achievement of sustainable workplace safety and health improvements:
• It has achieved its initial aim of providing a unified assessment method in terms of standardization of audit checklist and adoption of a common audit scoring system. • It allows contractors to systematically identify areas of weakness in safety management and take practical measures to improve their scores. • It provides consistency to the auditing process and allows easy cross comparison of worksites in terms of capabilities in managing safety and health risk.

In 2007, when it was first launched as a voluntary system, ConSASS already had the support of many industry stakeholders, including major developers such as City Development Limited and contractors like Foster Wheeler, Straits Construction and Gammon Construction have pledged their support. Government agencies like Land Transport Authority (LTA) and Housing Development Board (HDB) have also committed to getting their contractors on board. Many other stakeholders amongst property developers, auditors as well as building contractors voiced support for the system and expressed that they would adopt ConSASS at their worksites. During its first year of implementation, a total of 37 audits have been conducted using ConSASS. Four years after its launched, ConSASS is now a mandatory tool for auditing of OSHMS for construction worksites having a contract sum S$30 million or more. The tool has been punlished in the Oct WHO CC Newsletter and presented virtually at the InterConstruct Virtual Conference in Oct this year. WHO CCs may wish to pilot a similar project or adapt this tool for their own construction sites in their country. We will be glad to assist if they need assistance in using this tool.

Resources:

Following the successful adoption of ConSASS in Singapore, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) appraisal tool was developed. It is based on the Universal Assessment Instrument, Singapore Standard for Occupational Safety and Health Management System (SS506) [SS 506 is a full adoption of OHSAS 18000 series] and Singapore Standard CP 79 Code of Practice for Safety Management System for Construction Worksites. This tool incorporates the 21 measurement criteria in UAI under five driving factors (management commitment, employee participation and training, OSH systems and practices, OSH expertise and line ownership) and the Deming’s Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act in SS506. The self administered tool helps companies to find out the strength and weakness of their WSH management system so that measures can be put in place to address the gaps identified. It also allows for data and information to be collected for the purpose of providing an indicative trend of the WSH performance of the company against the national WSH performance. It can be used by any workplace for evaluating their own WSH performance and is available free of charge on the internet. We invite all WHO collaborating centres to use this tool and provide feedback on how to enhance this tool further.

For purpose of trial usage, login details can be obtained from the contact person, Mr Ronnie Lim (ronnie_lim@mom.gov.sg)

For further information on the WSH Appraisal tool please visit https://www.wshc.sg/wps/portal/wshapt?action=enter&openMenu=3&ns=1#. We invite all WHO CCs to use this tool and provide feedback on how to enhance this tool further.

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