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Prepare workplace for terror attack, Singapore companies urged

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DPM Teo, speaking at the National Security Conference on Tuesday, said the "business sector has a key role to play in helping to build cohesion, harmony and trust in Singapore".

Singapore

SAFETY and health at the workplace will soon take on a larger meaning. So will the regular fire drill.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Tuesday rolled out guidelines that will extend the concerns with industrial accidents and fire hazards in factories and offices to terrorist attacks.

The SGSecure Guide for Workplaces, which is part of the SGSecure movement launched a year ago to boost readiness in the community to deal with a terror attack, will be given out to the 151,000 companies in Singapore.

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The guidebook, jointly developed by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the Home Team and tripartite partners, outlines three approaches businesses should take to deal with the terror threat: prepare workers so they can protect themselves and co-workers when there is an attack; protect the workplace and build effective contingency plans; and partner the community to reinforce vigilance and response to crisies.

"Our goal is to strengthen the preparedness of our workplaces," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.

"The terrorist threat to Singapore is at the highest since the JI (Jemaah Islamiyah) group was dismantled in 2001," he said at the National Security Conference hosted by the Singapore Business Federation. "To complement our efforts to prepare Singaporeans, we need to also prepare our businesses as well."

The government has already tabled the Infrastructure Protection Bill to help beef up the capabilities of event organisers and building owners to secure places where people gather or work. Companies are also encouraged to draw up business continuity plans to cope with the destruction of property and help workers affected to recover and return to work.

Mr Teo said the public service will take the lead to train public officers on emergency preparedness, such as first aid and the use of automated external defibrillators.

He urged companies to appoint and register an SGSecure representative with MOM as the point-of-contact person, should there be an incident. The representative will also be the company's advocate to prepare other workers.

Mr Teo said the framework for bizSAFE, a safety and risk management programme, has been strengthened to cover the risk of terrorist attacks. The aim is to help businesses develop a response plan to secure workplaces.

"Business leaders undergoing the enhanced bizSAFE certification will learn how to identify risks and develop risk management plans for their companies," Mr Teo said. "These plans will be audited by qualified personnel as well."

In expanding the outreach to businesses, MOM said the new SGSecure at Workplaces programme will zoom in on five sector that typically see higher footfall: food and beverage; retail; entertainment; hotel; and transport.

The programme will bring MOM, unions and employers together with industry associations from the five sectors as well as key building owners to raise awareness of the SGSecure movement. The police force's safety and security watch group will also help train workers in responding to a crisis.

The target is to secure 30,000 "SGSecure-engaged" and 27,000 "SGSecure-ready" companies by 2020.

Mr Teo said forging racial and religious harmony will also go a long way to reducing security threats. It is also key in building the resilience of businesses, communities and the nation to bounce back from a terrorist attack.

"Our business sector has a key role to play in helping to build cohesion, harmony and trust in Singapore," Mr Teo said. "This is an important complement to the actions to strengthen the preparedness of our workplace."