The deprioritising of social and environmental initiatives by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore is potentially leading to worsening workplace safety and health (WSH) performance, according to QBE Insurance's yearly survey that examines the key concerns and challenges faced by SMEs in Singapore.
In 2022, 51% of SMEs indicated that they experienced workplace incidents, an 8% increase over 2021, and a concerning 27% increase from 2020. This coincides with 2022’s record of holding the highest number of workplace fatalities over a four-year period in Singapore.
Despite the increased number of workplace incidents, local SMEs are doing less to mitigate the impact of these: 29% of SMEs polled were either not fully informed about WSH insurance requirements, or are totally unaware or unsure of where to get relevant information from – up from 25% in 2021.
The QBE survey also finds that 14% of SMEs do not provide employees with WSH insurance coverage beyond mandated levels, with 4% unsure of whether this is provided to staff. 8% of SMEs polled also indicated that they have not implemented any WSH initiative in the past 12 months.
Now in its eighth edition, the survey finds that only 52% of SMEs conduct social and environmental initiatives at least once a year, a 7% drop from 2021, with 23% less than once every four years. This is even though 76% consider ESG issues to be relevant to their business.
Consistent with 2021’s findings, cost remains the main barrier preventing SMEs from focusing more intently on social and environmental issues, said 32% of those surveyed – a 6% rise from 2020. The SMEs surveyed also expressed that they do not have staff with the relevant skills (28%) and that social and environmental initiatives take too much time (27%).
“These findings should serve as a wake-up call for SMEs. At a time when there has been a recorded uptick in workplace incidents, implementing the appropriate WSH measures is more critical than ever,” said Mr Ronak Shah, CEO of QBE Insurance Singapore.