Singapore's tripartite partners (MOM, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation) have issued a set of safe management measures that employers are required to implement upon resuming their operations.
These Tripartite Advisory requirements are meant for general workplace settings, and are as follows:
#1 Implement a system of Safe Management Measures at workplaces
Employers must establish a system to implement these measures to provide a safe working environment and minimise risks of further outbreaks. These measures must be implemented in a sustainable manner for as long as necessary.
- Implement a detailed monitoring plan to ensure compliance with safe management measures and that issues (e.g. remedy of non-compliance, risk mitigation) are resolved in a timely manner.
- Appoint Safe Management Officer(s) (SMO) to assist in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the system of the measures at the workplace. For unionised companies, union leaders or workplace safety and health officers could be appointed as SMOs. The duties of these officers include:
- Coordinating the implementation of safe management measures. This 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.
- Conducting inspections and checks. Officer(s) must conduct inspections and checks to ensure compliance at all times. Any non-compliance found during the inspections should be reported and documented.
- Remedying non-compliance. Immediate action should be taken to remedy any non-compliance found during the inspections and checks.
- Keeping records of inspections and checks. Records of the inspections and checks conducted and corrective actions taken must be kept and made available upon request by a Government Inspector.
#2 Reduce physical interaction and ensure safe distancing at workplaces
Where employees can perform their work by telecommuting (i.e. work-from-home), the employer must ensure that they do so, according to the Advisory.
- Measures could include reviewing work processes, providing the necessary IT equipment to employees, and adopting solutions that enable remote working and online collaboration. Employers are encouraged to leverage technology to ensure business continuity and safe management.
- Conduct all internal and external meetings between employees and with suppliers/contractors virtually where possible. Physical meetings must be minimised.
- No activities with close and prolonged contact should take place. Employers must cancel or defer all events or activities that involve close and prolonged contact amongst participants, e.g. conferences, seminars and exhibitions. All social gatherings at the workplace must also be cancelled or deferred, including interacting at staff canteens or being in groups during meals or breaks.
- Employers should pay special attention to vulnerable employees to enable them to work from home, including temporarily redeploying them to another role within the company that is suitable for working from home.
For job roles or functions where employees cannot work from home, such as frontline operations, manufacturing production, and fieldwork at construction sites, shipyards or plants, employers must ensure the following precautions are in place prior to resuming operations:
- Stagger working and break hours. Employers must implement staggered working and break hours to reduce possible congregation of employees at all common spaces, including entrances, exits, lobbies, canteens and pantries.
- These 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.
- Where possible, reporting and end times should not coincide with peak-hour travel, especially if employees require the use of public transport.
- If it is not feasible to implement staggered working and break hours due to operational reasons (e.g. manufacturing production line activities), employers must implement other systems to reduce congregation of employees at common spaces (e.g. arrange for different groups of employees to arrive/depart through different entrances/exits).
- Implement shift or split-team arrangements. For suitable workplace settings, employers must split employees at workplace premises into teams, with each team restricted to one worksite, where applicable. No employee should work in more than one team or worksite.
- There must be no cross-deployment or interaction between employees in different shifts, teams or worksites, even outside of work. Employers will need to ensure clear separation of employees on different shifts or split teams, such as implementing human traffic management measures and stepping up cleaning of common areas during shift or split team changeovers.
- If cross-deployment cannot be avoided (e.g. due to the nature of the job), additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross-infection.
- Minimise need for physical touchpoints. Employers should reduce the occurrences of or need for common physical touchpoints in the workplace where possible (e.g. swipe scanners). Where physical contact is needed, additional safeguards must be taken to minimise the risk of cross infection (e.g. frequent disinfection of touchpoints).
- If physical interaction is required in the workplace, precautions should be taken to ensure clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times through the following, as shared here.
#3 Support contact tracing requirements
- Record proximity data on phones. To help the Ministry of Health to more quickly identify potential close contacts of COVID-19 patients, employers should encourage all employees to download and activate the TraceTogether app. Data recorded by TraceTogether is stored on the user’s phone, and is only uploaded when required by MOH, e.g. when the user is suspected to have COVID-19.
- Control access at the workplace. Employers must limit access to the workplace to only essential employees and authorised visitors. The SafeEntry visitor management system must be used to record the entry of all personnel (including employees and visitors) entering the workplace. A list of workplaces that should implement this can be found here.
- Personnel who are unwell will be refused entry to the workplace.
- Visitors who are unwell must be asked to reschedule their appointments and return another day when they are well, or be served via alternate means.
#4 Require personal protective equipment and observe good personal hygiene
Wearing of masks at the workplace. Employers must ensure that all onsite personnel, including employees, visitors, suppliers and contractors, wear a mask and other necessary personal protective equipment at all times at the workplace, except during activities that require masks to be removed.
- Employers must ensure that it has sufficient masks for all employees, 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.
- Observing good personal hygiene. Employers should encourage their employees to observe good personal hygiene, e.g. wash their hands regularly and refrain from touching their face.
#5 Ensure cleanliness of workplace premises
Employers should step up the cleaning of workplace premises.
- Ensure regular cleaning of common spaces, particularly areas with high human contact, such as counters where customers are served, rooms where visitors are hosted, as well as general public access areas such as lifts, pantries, toilets, and bin areas. Where physical meetings are held or meals are taken at common spaces such as pantries or canteens, employers must clean and disinfect tables between each meeting or seating.
- Employers should also ensure that machinery and equipment shared between different employees across different shifts or alternate teams are cleaned and disinfected before changing hands. All sanitation and hygiene advisories disseminated by the National Environmental Agency must be adhered to.
- Employers should provide cleaning and disinfecting agents at the following areas: Cleaning agents (e.g. hand soap, toilet paper) must be available at all toilets and hand-wash stations; and disinfecting agents (e.g. hand sanitisers) must be installed at all human traffic stoppage points within the workplace, such as entrances, reception areas, security booths and lift lobbies.
MOM takes action against 29 workplaces for breaching safe distancing measures
A "vast majority" of companies in Singapore have been compliant with the government's safe distancing measures, Ministry of Manpower (MOM)'s inspections over the past month have found.
Over the past month from 7 April to 5 May, the Ministry conducted over 15,000 inspections at workplaces, as part of continued enforcement on both circuit breaker measures for workplaces and stay-home notice requirements.
However, while most workplaces had implemented the necessary safe distancing measures at their premises, a total of 29 were still found to be in breach of them - including failing to ensure safe distancing and crowd management, not conducting temperature screening, and not properly tracking employees' and visitors' entry into the workplace.
These firms faced composition fines totally S$29,000; at the same time, MOM also issued a total of S$16,000 in composition fines to 16 non-essential firms that had not sought approval to operate during the circuit breaker period, while another 154 were issued stern warnings for the same reason.
MOM revokes work passes of 29 holders who breached SHN requirements/circuit breaker measures
Apart from the above, between 13 and 30 April, the MOM conducted over 75,000 video calls and inspections on foreign workers to ensure that they abide by the circuit breaker measures and SHN requirements. Following these inspections, 29 work pass holders were found to be breaching the requirements, and have had their work passes revoked.
Of these 29, 17 were caught breaching the circuit breaker measures, by eating, drinking and gathering in groups. The remaining 12 were caught leaving their place of residence while on SHN.
These work pass holders have been permanently banned from working in Singapore and, in line with this, the MOM has also suspended the work pass privileges of nine employers for failing to ensure that their employees comply with the SHN requirements.