Resuming business activities? Make sure you have these safe management measures in place

Resuming business activities? Make sure you have these safe management measures in place

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With more businesses in Singapore resuming activities during Phase Two of reopening, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has put together a checklist of safe management measures required at the workplace for the resumption of business activities, as well as what companies must be prepared to show when inspected by any government agency. 

Employers in Singapore should note that the Government will take action against errant employers, including the cessation of operations and enforcement.

While this checklist is released by Singapore's MOM, we're confident it will come in handy for HR leaders across the region as your organisations prepare to resume business activities over the next few weeks/months.

The checklist has been split into four key parts (click on the link to jump straight to each part):

  1. Take care of your workers
  2. Take care of the workplace
  3. Take care of workers who become unwell at the workplace
  4. Implement a system of safe management measures at workplaces

Take care of your workers

1. Have all employees able to work from home do so
Refer the note for point 5 and 6 for more details on what to show during inspections. 

2. Conduct all meetings between employees and with suppliers/contractors virtually where possible.

3. No events or activities with close or prolonged contact amongst participants
This includes conferences, seminars and exhibitions.

4. Enable vulnerable employees to work from home
Older employees, pregnant employees, employees with underlying medical conditions should be allowed to work from home, including temporarily redeploying them to another role within the company that is suitable for working from home, as far as possible.

5. Stagger working and break hours
This is to reduce possible congregation of employees at all common spaces (including entrances, exits, lobbies, canteens and pantries).

  • Staggered working hours must be implemented over at least three 1-hourly blocks, with not more than half of the employees reporting to work within each 1-hour block.
  • Timings of lunch and other breaks must also be staggered. Reporting and ending times does not coincide with peak-hour travel where possible.
  • If working and break hours cannot be staggered due to operational reasons, other systems must be implemented to reduce congregation of employees at common spaces.

6. Split all employees at the workplace premises into teams

Employees who are not working from home should be split into teams, with each team restricted to one worksite, where applicable.

There should be no cross-deployment/interaction between employees in different shifts, teams or worksites, even outside work. If cross-deployment/interaction cannot be avoided due to operational reasons, safe distancing measures must be implemented and observed. Refer to the notes under points 11 and 12 for more details of safe distancing measures.

NOTE for point 5 and 6: During inspections, employers must show a list of all employees in an Excel spreadsheet with the following details:

  1. Full name
  3. Work arrangements (“not working”, “work-from-home”, “onsite (shift work)” or “onsite (non-shift work)”)
  4. Shift number for arrival/departure at the workplace and break hours (if applicable – see point 5)
  5. Team number (if applicable – see point 6)

7. Cancel or defer all social gatherings
This includes birthday celebrations, team bonding activities, etc. at the workplace.

Ensure employees do not socialise or congregate in groups at the workplace (including common spaces such as staff canteens, pantries, water coolers/vending machines, smoking corners), including during meals or breaks.

Do not organise social gatherings outside the workplace and remind employees not to socialise outside of the workplace, both during or outside working hours (e.g. going out together for lunch, dinner, breaks or drinks), including with colleagues from separate teams/shifts/worksites.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show that signs and instructions are displayed at common spaces in the workplace that social gatherings or socialisation/congregation in groups are not allowed.

8. Require all onsite personnel to wear masks and other necessary personal protective equipment at all times
This is applicable for all personnel onsite including employees, visitors and vendors. Masks and other necessary personal protective equipment should be worn at all times, except during activities that require masks to be removed (e.g. mealtimes).

Ensure that all employees have sufficient masks, including any need to replace masks due to workplace conditions (e.g. humidity). Where possible, employers should consider improving the working environment for employees to enable them to sustain wearing the masks.

NOTE: During inspections, if disposable masks (e.g. N95, surgical masks) are used, employers must show how many new masks each employee is issued with daily.

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Take care of the workplace

9. Limit workplace access to only essential employees and authorised visitors
Use SafeEntry visitor management system to log the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors) entering the workplace. Click here for the list of workplaces where SafeEntry must be deployedPersonnel who are unwell must be refused entry to the workplace.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show how workplace access is limited only to essential employees and authorised visitors. Signs and instructions that unwell personnel are refused entry to the workplace must also be clearly shown.

10. Employees and visitors must declare the following before being allowed to enter premises
Employees and visitors must declare via SafeEntry or other means (e.g. electronic or hard copy records), before being allowed to enter premises, that they: 

  1. Are currently not under a Quarantine Order, Stay-Home Notice;
  2. Have not had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days; and
  3. Do not have any fever or flu-like symptoms.

To make declarations via SafeEntry with NRIC, employers must display prominent signs informing all visitors and employees that they are making the required declarations by checking in via SafeEntry.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show signs informing visitors and employees of the declarations being made for checking into SafeEntry with NRIC.

11. Require all employees to keep a clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times
Such distances should be demarcated at the workplace premises with visual indicators or through physical means (including barriers between workstations, relocation of workstations, meeting room seats, etc.), including but not limited to entrances, exits, workstations, lifts, pantries, canteens, meeting rooms/areas.

If there is a critical need for physical meetings, the number of attendees should be limited and the duration shortened.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show how safe distancing is carried out at workstations, and other common areas where a congregation of workers may occur.

12. Require suppliers/contractors to implement similar safe distancing measures while onsite
This is so that operations and business interactions with them are kept safe. Employers should also schedule deliveries and other physical interactions in a staggered manner and keep durations as short as possible.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show signs and instructions that suppliers/contractors are required to implement safe distancing measures.

13. Minimise the need for common physical touchpoints
For instance, this can be done by deploying contactless access controls where possible.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show how physical touchpoints have been minimised or precautions have been taken to minimise risk at these touchpoints.

14. Regularly clean and maintain common spaces and equipment
This should be done particularly during shift or split team changeovers. Employers should also adhere to sanitation and hygiene advisories disseminated by the National Environmental Agency.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show the cleaning schedules and any other relevant instructions to/documents from cleaning service provider.

15. Employers should ensure that the following are provided at the workplace

  1. Cleaning agents (e.g. hand soap, toilet paper) at all toilet and hand-wash stations;
  2. Disinfecting agents (e.g. hand sanitisers) at all human traffic stoppage points within the workplace, such as entrances, reception areas, security booths and lift lobbies.
  3. Disinfecting agents (e.g. disinfectant sprays, paper towels and wipes) at meeting rooms and other common spaces such as pantries or canteens

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Take care of workers who become unwell at the workplace

16. Ensure regular checks for temperature and respiratory symptoms
This should be done for all employees and visitors, twice daily or where relevant.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show arrangements for checks on temperature and respiratory symptoms, such as facilities set up to screen all employees and visitors or records of temperature checks.

17. Encourage all employees at the workplace to download and activate the TraceTogether app
This will help the Ministry of Health with contact tracing should employees come into contact with confirmed cases throughout their day.

18. Actively monitor unwell employees and guard against incipient outbreaks
The following should be ensured:

  1. Require workplace employees to submit records of their MCs and diagnoses provided (only for COVID-19-related symptoms, including acute respiratory infections), and if they were tested for COVID-19 and the results of their tests. COVID-19-related symptoms include but are not limited to typical symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.
  2. Take preventive actions to guard against incipient outbreaks at the workplace, such as requiring these employees on MCs to closely monitor their health before returning to the workplace and requiring these employees’ close contacts at the workplace to monitor their health more regularly.
  3. Where possible, ensure that each workplace employee visits only one clinic for check-ups.
  4. Otherwise, employees must inform the clinic of all recent doctor visits over the past 14 days for any symptoms that may be related to COVID-19.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show records of communication to all workplace employees. Records of COVID-19-related conditions, MCs and test results reported by employees also must be shown.

19. Put in place an evacuation plan
This should be done for suspected cases, as well as for all other onsite personnel.

  1. Any employee who is feeling unwell or showing symptoms of illness should report to his employer, leave the workplace and consult a doctor immediately, even if symptoms may appear mild. Employers must track and record these cases as part of safe management measures.
  2. For incapacitated or unconscious individuals – clear the area of other personnel and administer aid immediately. Employers should call 995 for an emergency ambulance to ferry them to the nearest hospital.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show the evacuation plan.

20. Put in place a follow-up plan in the event of a confirmed case
The follow-up plan should include:

  1. Immediately vacating and cordoning-off the immediate section of the workplace premises where the confirmed case worked. There is no need to vacate the building or the whole floor if there is no sustained and close contact with the confirmed case;
  2. Carrying out a thorough cleaning and disinfect all relevant on-site areas and assets exposed to confirmed cases, in accordance to NEA guidelines.

Employers should note that workplaces with confirmed cases could have their businesses suspended if there are public health grounds to do so.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show the follow-up plan.

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Implement a system of safe management measures at workplaces

21. Establish and implement a system of safe management measures
This is to provide a safe working environment and minimise the risks of further outbreaks. These measures should be implemented in a sustainable manner, for as long as necessary.

22. Implement a detailed monitoring plan
This is to ensure compliance with safe management measures and issues (e.g. remedy of non-compliance, risk mitigation) are resolved in a timely manner.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must provide a monitoring plan for ensuring compliance with safe management measures.

23. Appoint Safe Management Officers (SMO)
SMOs are to assist in the implementation and coordination of the system of safe management measures at the workplace.

The duties of the SMO will include the following:

  1. To coordinate implementation of safe management measures, which includes identifying relevant risks, recommending and assisting in implementing measures to mitigate the risks, and communicating the measures to all personnel working in the workplace.
  2. To conduct inspections and checks to ensure compliance at all times and to report and document any non-compliance found during the inspections.
  3. To take immediate action to remedy any non-compliance found during the inspections and checks.
  4. To keep records of inspections and checks conducted and corrective actions taken. The records shall be made available upon request by a Government inspector.

NOTE: During inspections, employers must show a list of the duties and detailed tasks of SMOs. Records of inspections, checks, and corrective actions must also be shown.

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 Photo / 123RF

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