As Singapore prepares to shift towards post-circuit breaker period of COVID-19, the work is far from over. On 3 June 2020, over 3 out of 200 workplaces were found to be breaking safe management measures put forth by the Ministry of Manpower. These measures are specific to minimising any COVID-19 risk, as well as implementing safety measures at workplaces. In order to ensure that your workplace is safe, there needs to be a workplace safety and health management system in place. The same applies to construction sites, where accidents and safety are equally as important.
Here’s how you can ensure your employees understand the safety system, the safe practices, and how they can continue to thrive under a safe workplace.
1. Social distancing whenever possible
The key factor in protecting your employees is to ensure that they are safe when they are working on the ground. As they will be mingling, shifting and congregating from place to the next, social distancing should be done as much as possible to limit any contagious outbreak on-site. Segregated teams are required, with each team working on a single area.
While on-site, all personnel must wear masks at all times on construction sites. This applies to employers, visitors, contractors, suppliers and others that may come in contact on-site. The top priority is ensuring that there are sufficient masks for all of your employees, and improving the working environment where possible so that they are able to wear masks for extended periods while on the ground.
2. Implementing health checks and protocols for your employees
Before your employees are able to return to work, a safety check for their health and their temperature is required. This not only helps you to keep track of your employees but also check regularly to ensure that they are healthy to work. An electronic system must be set in place to record down all personnel’s health, for both entry and exit of construction sites.
In addition to health checks, you can also task your workplace to introduce contact tracing requirements. The TraceTogether app should also be downloaded and activated for devices on all personnel at all times.
3. Appoint a Safe Management Officer (SMO)
It is vital for employers to establish a system and implement safe management measures so that employees are able to work and minimise any risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. This is where a Safe Management Officer comes in. These officers can be union leaders or workplace safety and health officers, seeing over the coordination, implementation and supervision of all safe management measures at the workplace.
Employers must provide all appointed SMOs with the right instructions and information so that they are able to carry out their duties fully. If they were not previously trained, they are to undergo both safety training as well as training for safe management measures. Here is what the duties of a SMO include:
- Coordinate the implementation of safe management measures
- Conduct checks and inspections on-site
- Remedy any non-compliance immediately
- Keep all records of correction actions, checks, and inspections
Employers may also appoint Safe Distancing Officers or COVID Safe Worker Leaders to enforce safe distancing measures on the ground and to keep track of employee’s physical and psychological well-being, respectively.
4. Cohorting & segregating for transport and accommodation
To ensure safety for all workers and employees at a construction site, cohorting and segregation are important factors to note. These require employers to cohort construction workers into a different living arrangement, such as on-site temporary accommodation, off-site temporary housing, or segregated from other workers into smaller units. For transport, employers need to provide dedicated transportation to worksites in small teams, with a regular updated schedule back from worksite to place of accommodation as well.
Construction sites, unlike other workplaces in Singapore, see a bigger number of employees interacting together during different periods of the day. It is crucial that all personnel adhere to safe management measures, and play a part towards minimising risk for themselves and others. Equipped with the right tools, knowledge and training, your employees can continue to feel safe and work safely at all times while they are on the construction site!