Singapore to allow gradual resumption of construction work from 2 June

Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has announced it will allow construction work in the country to resume in phases after the Covid-19 circuit breaker period ends on 1 June 2020. A gradual resumption is necessary, stressed BCA, to minimise the risk of new Covid-19 outbreaks among construction workers.

Since the circuit breaker period began on 7 April 2020, most construction work in Singapore has been suspended. Currently, only about 5% of the construction workforce are working on very small number of critical infrastructure projects, and those that have to continue for safety reasons.

From 2 June 2020, BCA will gradually allow more construction projects to resume. These would be projects that cannot be left idle for too long due to safety concerns, and critical and time-sensitive projects, such as MRT and Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) tunnelling projects.

Previously suspended residential renovation works will also be allowed to resume. BCA expects about another 5% of the construction workforce to gradually resume work in the month of June (i.e. a total of 10% of the construction workforce).

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.

Covid-Safe restart criteria

According to BCA, employers will be required to demonstrate their ability to meet the following three Covid-Safe restart criteria before projects are allowed to restart:

1). Covid-Safe Workforce: e.g. employers to establish a system to track the daily health status of workers, and to manage workers’ interactions on rest days; regular Covid-19 testing for the workforce.

2). Covid-Safe Worksite: e.g. worksites to use national digital check-in system SafeEntry to record all entries and exits; strict safe management measures to be enforced at worksites to prevent outbreaks, such as segregating workers by teams into different work zones, and having staggered breaks.

3). Covid-Safe Worker Accommodation and Transport: e.g. cohorting of workers by projects at their places of accommodation; providing dedicated transport between worksites and places of accommodation.

BCA is working closely with the industry and the relevant Trade Associations and Chambers (TACs) to develop these criteria. An Audit and Inspection regime will be implemented, using technology solutions to check that resumed projects are strictly observing Covid-Safe practices. More details will be shared in about a week’s time.

Hugh Lim, CEO of BCA said, “BCA has been engaging the industry and TACs on the additional precautions and safeguards that need to be put in place for safe restart of construction projects. We recognise that such measures are an additional imposition, and we are heartened that companies do see the need to protect their workers, and to prevent further outbreaks of Covid-19 which may halt work, and derail the restart. BCA will work closely with the industry to help companies to be ‘Covid-Safe and restart ready’, so that more projects can resume over the next few months.”

Image: Jason Goh/Pixabay