Sunday, 27 Sep 2020

40,000 workers set to benefit as conditions eased to accelerate construction site restart

SINGAPORE – Companies with foreign construction workers registered with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) can now restart some work without needing to apply for approval from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).

The change announced by the BCA on Wednesday (Aug 12) applies only to jobs that employ a relatively limited number of workers such as lift maintenance and renovation work, and is aimed at helping the construction sector regain its feet more quickly after all workers have been tested.

Contractors must still apply to the BCA to begin work at construction sites and premises such as ready-mixed concrete plants and sand terminals as these usually involve more manpower.

The change will allow an additional 40,000 or so workers to get back on the job, as long as they fulfil other conditions.

These include being free of the virus, not being on stay-home notices and living in a Covid-19 cleared accommodation. They must also download TraceTogether.

The announcement comes a day after the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that all dormitories, with the exception of 17 blocks in six purpose-built dormitories that serve as quarantine facilities, have been cleared of the coronavirus.

In addition, a BCA rule that allowed employers to restart work only after they rehoused workers in no more than 10 different dorms has also been lifted.

The rule aimed to reduce the risk of infection when workers from different dorms interacted on sites and to minimise the number of dorms affected if a Covid-19 case surfaced.

Employers can now begin work even if their workers are housed at more than 10 addresses as all dorms have nominally been cleared of the virus. But the BCA said they should still continue reducing the number of accommodation sites for their staff.

“Contractors should take into account the larger number of workers on site and enforce strict zoning of their workforce, and ensure that workers residing in different accommodation or performing different activities do not intermingle on site,” it added.

Audits and inspections will be stepped up to ensure rules are being followed.

Meanwhile, the BCA, the MOM, the Economic Development Board (EDB) and other agencies are working to reorganise worker accommodation so that those in the same company live at the same address.

This will involve rehousing 160,000 workers in 43 dormitories by Sept 30.

Around 3,300 construction site projects have already been approved to restart, the BCA added.

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