The second External Review Panel on SAF Safety (ERPSS) made a field visit to the Island Defence Training Institute today. During the visit, the Panel was briefed on the SAF's measures to enhance training safety and strengthen safety culture. The Panel was also updated on the improvements observed across the SAF, such as an improved mindset towards safety and a 49% increase in open reporting in 2019, compared to 2018. This was followed by a visit to the training grounds where the Panel had an opportunity to observe Operationally Ready National Servicemen (NSmen) from 906th Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment undergoing training, with safe management measures in place.
A culture of open-reporting promotes mindfulness over safety and enables soldiers to feel confident about reporting unsafe practices and near misses. This allows for important safety lessons to be shared quickly and openly, and prevents future accidents. Discussing how the SAF has made notable progress in reinforcing the safety culture as a priority at every level through encouraging open reporting, Chairman of the ERPSS, Mr Heng Chiang Gnee said, "A key [area for improvement] that we observed during the first ERPSS, was how the SAF ought to step up on culture building. Over the last three years, I am quite happy to see that the SAF has been quite dogged in pursuing it. That is something very positive."
The second ERPSS, comprising external safety experts and relevant professionals, was inaugurated in July 2017. It evaluates the SAF's safety practices through visits to the formations and units, recommends improvements to build a stronger safety system and culture in the SAF, and also provides an independent perspective of Committee of Inquiry (COI) findings on training fatalities.
Sharing his thoughts as the second ERPSS' tenure draws to a close in December, Mr Heng said, "In the course of [my involvement over] the last three years, I can see that a lot of effort has been put in, into things like team leadership where people look after each other. And there are systems [and] procedures that the Army has introduced across the whole Army, such that when servicemen adopt these procedures and systems, it allows them to build ownership [of their safety] as well."
Over its tenure, the second ERPSS has made nine visits to various Services, formations, units and exercises, including the Basic Military Training Centre, SAF Medical Corps, RSAF Helicopter Group and RSN Fleet. The third ERPSS will be convened in January next year.