Office of Safety, Health & Environment


Safety & Health Management System (SHMS) for Academic Supervisors Certification Scheme


1. Introduction


In 2006, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) extended the Workplace Safety & Health (WSH) Regulations to cover NUS activities, including laboratory activities.

To demonstrate compliance, NUS Senior Management requires all Academic Supervisor1 having oversight of research and/or teaching activities2 in NUS workspaces3 to implement and maintain a Safety & Health Management System (SHMS). This is to ensure that the safety & health risks arising from their work activities are managed in a systematic and effective manners. Kindly refer to the notices (below) which were issued by Senior Management.

1Academic Supervisor – refers to academic staff who are appointed as principal investigator, laboratory supervisor, programme leader, etc. who have been (1) awarded research grant, (2) university appointed agents/representatives for research (including research-related activities supporting academic modules), or other sponsored project; (3) managing departmental level facilities such as research and/or core/shared facilities

2Activities – academic supervisors with non-laboratory based activities (refer to the research and teaching projects/tasks which are purely deskbound, i.e. involving the use of computers only) are not required to participate in this scheme.

3Workspaces – any space used for laboratory, workshop and field related activities. This space includes areas that are not owned by the Academic Supervisor such as departmental, shared or core facilities, animal facilities and work done in spaces owned by collaborators.

Notices from NUS Senior Management
For faculties / schools   Certification Scheme 
For Research Institutes / Centres   Certification Scheme


2. Revised SHMS Standard & Guidance Notes (New!)


In 2008, NUS launched the NUS Laboratory Occupational Safety & Health Management System Standard. However, as research and teaching activities have become more diverse with more interdisciplinary collaborations on the rise, the NUS Laboratory Occupational Safety & Health Management System Standard (Part A) have been revised and now known as the NUS Safety & Health Management System (SHMS) Standard for Academic Supervisors – Part A: Requirement.

The following are the key changes introduced in this new standard:

  1. Clarity on the terms and definitions used in the standard e.g. Academic supervisors, scheduled workspaces
  2. The revised standard will now cover field and animal works and extend beyond just laboratory-based activities
  3. The requirement for the frequency of internal audits is also spelt out clearly

In addition, the previous NUS Laboratory Occupational Safety & Health Management System Standard – Part B: Guidance Note has also been revised. The revised standard is termed as Safety & Health Management System for Academic Supervisors - Part B: Guidance Notes The guidance documents now provides more supplementary information and examples to help Academic Supervisors to develop and maintain an effective SHMS.


3. What do Academic Supervisors need to do?


New Academic Supervisors Academic supervisors already certified under the Scheme
  1. Academic Supervisor, with non-lab based activities (research and teaching projects/tasks which are purely deskbound), who are exempted from the scheme are to submit the on-line declaration at : https://wws.nus.edu.sg/osh/nonlabfrm/login.aspx
  2. Academic staff, who are required to participate in the scheme, are given 6 months to develop and implement the S&H Management System.
  3. Academic Supervisor can either attend the training sessions scheduled by the department or complete the online training modules of 'S&H Management System and Risk Management Methodology' at https://ivle.nus.edu.sg/
  4. Upon completion of training, Academic Supervisor will start to prepare using the given SHMS documentation template : https://share.nus.edu.sg/corporate/forms/safety_and_health/Lab-Certification-Scheme/Application-package.xls
  5. Prior to the audit, Academic Supervisor should work with the Department Safety Coordinator to:
    • conduct a preliminary review of the audit documents to ensure adequacy
    • confirm audit schedule
    • submit audit documents to OSHE at least 2 weeks before the audit
  6. Academic Supervisor will be awarded the Letter of Certification for effective implementation of SHMS upon completion of an audit process by OSHE.
  7. There is no expiry to the certification and Academic Supervisor will be subjected to surveillance audit by OSHE once every 3 years unless specified otherwise
  8. Academic Supervisor can use the certification for submission of grant release. For more info on grant release, please visit: https://inetapps.nus.edu.sg/osh/portal/eServices/iorc.html

1. Management of Change

Academic Supervisors, with research grants, are required to inform OSHE of the following changes online through iORC:

a. Change of activities
  • non-animal work to animal work and vice-versa;
  • non-lab based to lab-based work and vice-versa;
  • change of biosafety level;
  • introduction of new material/agent requiring regulatory approval and
  • non-radiation lab to radiation lab

b. A new grant-based project
  • New submission for grant release and subsequent revision (including projects involving use of animals)
  • a clinician research project is conducted in an Academic Supervisor’s laboratory that has achieved certification

2. Non-compliance

In the event of serious S&H non-compliance or reportable accidents to regulators involving the Academic Supervisor, the certification may be suspended. All new grants would not be approved.

Certification will be re-instated when all corrective / preventive actions have been verified by OSHE.



4. Frequency of Audits


a. From 2015 onwards, OSHE would audit one-third of the Academic Supervisors in each department/research institute/centre. Each Academic Supervisor will be audited once every 3 years unless specified otherwise. However, this might change in the event there is a deterioration of the safety performance of the activities under the Academic Supervisor.

b. Academic Supervisors who have performed well during the audits (without any non-compliance findings), the frequency of subsequent audits may be reduced.

c. There is no expiry to the certification for Academic Supervisor so long as the staff is in service with NUS.


5. Frequently Asked Questions


a. Who is required to participate in the certification scheme?

Academic staff who are appointed as principal investigator, laboratory supervisor, programme leader, etc. who have been:

  1. awarded research grant
  2. university appointed agents / representatives for research (including research-related actvities supporting academic modules), or other sponsored project
  3. managing departmental level facilities such as research and/or core/shared facilities

Academic Supervisor with non-laboratory based activities (research and teaching projects/tasks which are purely deskbound) i.e. involving the use of computers only, are not required to participate in this scheme.


b. Why do the Academic Supervisors have to undergo the SHMS certification scheme?

Workspaces like laboratories, workshops and studios are regulated workplaces under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. As an occupier of the research and teaching facilities in NUS, Academic Supervisors are required to establish a Safety & Health Management System to manage the hazards and risks arising from their activities in these areas. This scheme provides a structured and holistic way of managing safety in these workspaces. It also helps train the staff and students on the basics of safety and health. This scheme is a sustainable way to reduce accident and incident rates in NUS.

NUS Senior Management has mandated that all Academic Supervisor with supervisory oversight of laboratory based activities (research and/or teaching) are to be certified under the scheme.

Please also refer to the Notices from Senior Management.


c. What are the benefits of the SHMS certification scheme?

Academic Supervisor will be waived from submission of Project Risk Assessment for new grant-based projects except for animal work. Academic Supervisor still need to submit Project Risk Assessment on animal work and work with high risk biological agents as required by the regulators.

Please refer to iORC website at https://inetapps.nus.edu.sg/osh/portal/eServices/iorc.html


d. How can Academic Supervisors embark on the SHMS certification scheme?

Academic Supervisor can either attend the SHMS training sessions scheduled by the department or complete the online training modules of 'S&H Management System and Risk Management Methodology' at https://ivle.nus.edu.sg/

Upon completion of training, Academic Supervisor will start to prepare using the given SHMS documentation template: https://share.nus.edu.sg/corporate/forms/safety_and_health/Lab-Certification-Scheme/Application-package.xls

Academic Supervisor should work closely with the departmental safety coordinator for a suitable audit date/time.


e. Should clinicians, who are also Academic Supervisors, be certified under the scheme?

Yes. If they have research labs and have NUS staff/students working under him/her for research activities, the clinicians need to be certified as well. If not, they could be covered under the Safety & Health Management System of their NUS collaborators who are certified Academic Supervisors.


f. Are teaching labs covered under certification scheme?

If the teaching lab is managed under the Academic Supervisor, then it should be covered under the safety and health management system of the Academic Supervisor.


g. What if the Academic Supervisor has multiple labs in different departments / locations?

All NUS labs, regardless of departments and locations, under the Academic Supervisors must be included in the scope of his/her Safety & Health Management System.

OSHE will not audit research labs that do not belong to NUS (e.g. A-STAR, Biopolis, etc.). Academic Supervisors are to ensure that they have adhered to the requirements and/or attained the necessary safety approval of the non-NUS institution where they are conducting their research.


i. How long does the Academic Supervisor need to prepare their group before certification?

Typically, each Academic Supervisor and team is given a 6-month timeframe to establish a Safety & Health Management System for their workspaces.


j. How long will the audit take place?

Typically, the audit will take up to maximum of half a day.


k. What are the types of documentation to be submitted for audit?

Safety & Health Management System (SHMS) documentation to be submitted should conform to the requirements of the SHMS Standard for Academic Supervisor. Such documentation could be included but not limited to:

Risk Assessments, SWPs, Licenses/Permits, training records, maintenance records, notes of safety meeting, legal register, and etc.

Academic Supervisors can choose to adopt the SHMS template given in this link.

The SHMS documentations must be submitted to OSHE four weeks prior to conduct of the audit.


l. What is the validity of the certification?

There is no expiry to the certification for Academic Supervisor so long as the staff is in service with NUS. However, a surveillance audit will be conducted for the Academic Supervisor once every 3 years unless specified otherwise


6. Resources


No. Title
1 Safety & Health Management System Standard for Academic Supervisor – Part A: Requirement
2 Safety & Health Management System Standard for Academic Supervisor – Part B: Guidance Notes
3 Safety & Health Management System (SHMS) Template for Academic Supervisor
4 Register of Academic Supervisors under SHMS Certification Scheme


7. OSHE Contact Persons


For general enquiries on Certification Scheme: Mr Hairulnizam Ishak, 6516 7725, oshhi@nus.edu.sg

For scheduling of audit: Ms Oh Siew Kee, 6601 1676, oshosk@nus.edu.sg