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ISO 45001 has helped Sun City to establish systematic and robust business processes, which have minimised accidents and boosted productivity and staff morale.
Sun City’s staff celebrating Chinese New Year – the company prides itself in instilling a safe workplace and positive work culture through ISO 45001.
Sun City Maintenance Pte Ltd, or Sun City for short, is a Singapore-based property care service provider established in 1995. Today, it is a leader in Singapore’s cleaning and disinfection industry with an employee count of over 600 and revenue surpassing S$25 million.
In July 2019, Sun City was recognised with the ISO 45001 on Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Management Systems certification. The aim of ISO 45001 is to enable organisations to provide safe and healthy workplaces, prevent work-related injury and ill-health and continually improve OH&S performance.
A key step that companies take to implement ISO 45001 is putting in place comprehensive OH&S policies and processes for hazard identification and elimination.
Sun City’s OH&S policies and processes include checks across a wide range of factors such as service design, operating procedures, infrastructure and equipment, workplace culture, potential emergency situations and more.
For example, Sun City uses the hierarchy of controls (HOC), which is an internationally recognised system for managing OH&S risks. The HOC covers five rungs of controls: Elimination, Substitution, Engineering Controls, Administrative Controls and Personal Protective Equipment or PPE.
“We apply the HOC to our business context, where we can take systematic actions to prevent, eliminate or reduce the occurrence of an identified hazard,” says Nigel Ho, Sun City’s Manager for Marketing and Safety Compliance. “ISO 45001 also requires us to ensure our OH&S processes are proactive, so we constantly review and improve on them.”
Quick List of Benefits
ISO 45001: Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems
Employee safety has been a key priority for Sun City since its inception. “We see ourselves as being in the people business. Both worker and customer satisfaction are intertwined,” says Tony Seah, Manager for Business Excellence and Compliance.
Seah adds that the cleaning industry is made up of many elderly workers. “In Sun City’s case, about 50% of our workers are above 60 years old,” he says. “We go the extra mile to implement safety so that our elderly workers are gainfully employed in an environment where they feel confident, fulfilled and taken care of.”
The company also publishes handy reference guides known as Safe Work Practices (SWPs), which contain clear instructions for workers to perform each activity as safely as possible. With the ISO 45001 guidelines, Sun City further strengthened its SWPs by ensuring the information is translated into Chinese and Malay so that it is accessible to a wider audience.
Staff also have the right to stop work immediately if they feel that the situation or equipment poses risks to their safety. “This empowerment is accorded and made aware to them during the staff induction when they join the company,” says Seah.
Sun City’s management demonstrated its commitment to ISO 45001 by having an open mind towards OH&S innovation; supporting the Safety and Compliance Department as well as the Safety Committee with resources; engaging safety consultants during the implementation; and sending staff to internal audit courses – among other investments.
“Many of these commitments, including our strive towards ISO 45001, go above and beyond industry standards,” says Toh Lee Chun, Business Director. “So far, we are the only cleaning company in Singapore to receive the CultureSAFE commendation from the Workplace Safety & Health Council, which recognises our efforts in cultivating a progressive OH&S culture.”
(Left) Working at height securely from a teletower with a carbon fibre extension that helps the worker to reach higher places without being further elevated. (Right) A worker uses a vacuum cleaner with a CCTV to “see” and reach higher areas without the need to work at height.
During its ISO 45001 implementation, Sun City identified several innovations to enhance safety.
One is the use of a teletower to replace the traditional A-frame ladder. The teletower has an enclosed platform to safely accommodate a worker while he is working at height.
Sun City further improved on the teletower’s safety by integrating it with other equipment: a CCTV attached to a vacuum cleaner helps workers “see” better and acts as an added layer of protection; and a carbon fibre extension enables workers to reach heights of up to 12m without the need of the more hazardous scaffold or to be elevated as high as before. The risk of falling is significantly reduced.
Marketing and Safety Compliance Manager Ho says, “ISO 45001 has motivated us to keep developing innovative methods because we also see productivity benefits.”
For example, a worker cleaning a 50sqm ceiling that is 6m high using the old method would take four hours. A worker using the new method described above takes just two hours for the exact same task.
Before implementing ISO 45001, Sun City recorded two workplace accidents in 2018/2019, which translated to a cost of $6,000 due to the man-days lost and labour needed for the paperwork.
Since being ISO 45001-certified in 2019, Sun City has reported zero accidents.
Business Director Toh adds that since ISO 45001 goes beyond industry standards, Sun City hence automatically fulfils its customers’ OH&S contractual requirements as well as the Workplace Safety and Health Act. “We get off the ground more quickly with customers, and they are also assured that we will keep their staff safe,” says Toh.
Toh concludes by saying that ISO 45001 is about improving the entire business process. “ISO 45001 touches on every aspect of business, from systems to culture and management,” she explains. “Apart from improving OH&S, ISO 45001 has helped us to set a strong foundation for better business performance in the long run.”