20,000 construction workers will go back to work from June 2, must adhere to new, stricter distancing measures

Interaction between workers must be minimised.

Sulaiman Daud | May 15, 2020, 06:33 PM

[UPDATED at 8:30pm: An earlier version of BCA's announcement on the resumption of work for construction workers included a requirement that "workers must download contact tracing app TraceTogether". BCA subsequently retracted this statement from its press release in a follow-up version, clarifying that it is not compulsory for workers to do so. We have updated our article reporting this detail accordingly.]

Some 20,000 construction workers will "gradually" return to work starting June 2, 2020, with worksites implementing a host of new measures to ensure that they are free of Covid-19.

This was announced by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Friday (May 15).

These 20,000, constituting roughly 5 per cent of the construction workforce, will join another 20,000 construction workers who have been working through the period where Stay-Home Notices were initially applied to the majority of Singapore's migrant workforce, in particular those living outside dormitories.

However, their worksites, accommodation, and transportation must be made "Covid-safe".

Team segregation, staggered break times, masks to be worn at all times

All worksites must implement a host of new safe management measures, said the BCA, including safe distancing and health screening as well as check-ins via SafeEntry prior to workers' entry.

Employers are expected to establish "a system to track the daily health status" of their workers, as well as to manage their interactions on rest days.

Workers must be segregated into teams according to their different tasks, confined to designated zones, and stagger their break times. The principle, says BCA, is to minimise interaction between workers at their worksites.

Interaction between different teams or shifts even outside of work is forbidden.

Workers will also be provided individually-packed meals with personal tableware and must wear masks while at the sites.

BCA also recommends that workers don visual identifiers like coloured vests, armbands, T-shirts or stickers on helmets to facilitate safe distancing between different teams.

The worksites themselves must also be clean, and be equipped with hand sanitisers and hand wash stations for personal hygiene.

Not relaxing everything right away

The moves will be made in a gradual manner, and not all construction sites will resume work immediately on June 2. According to BCA:

"All works will require approval from BCA before they can restart. Foreign workers in the construction industry must be tested before they are allowed to return to work. In addition, construction projects must put in place adequate safe management measures."

In a press conference, also on Friday May 15, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that these moves will be "scaled up progressively" as other contractors implement the necessary measures. Added Wong:

"So it's important to realise that as for the easing of the circuit breaker restrictions, we are not relaxing everything on the first day on second of June, we are doing it in a careful and calibrated manner."

Workers can download TraceTogether app, other tech will be used

Workers will also be encouraged to maintain personal hygiene.

In addition, they may download the Singapore government's contact-tracing app, TraceTogether.

Technology will also be used to monitor conditions at the worksites remotely (via CCTV and video calls), and also to send up alerts if workers spend too much time in proximity to each other.

Workers returning to work will be tested for Covid-19 every two weeks.

How does TraceTogether work?

Accommodation provided on-site for workers, those working together should stay together

The BCA also said as far as possible, construction temporary quarters will accommodate these workers so they will not have to leave their worksites.

Those who are unable to stay at their worksites will stay together in off-site dedicated dormitories.

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Top image from BCA Singapore's Facebook page.