News: Construction works for some projects may be allowed to resume after circuit breaker

May 18, 2020

Construction works for critical and time-sensitive projects will be allowed to resume when the circuit breaker ends on 1 June, as long as the contractors meet the COVID-19 safety measures. 

The move is expected to double the 20,000 construction workers currently working on some critical infrastructure projects, including MRT projects, BTO projects and sewerage system tunnelling works, reported TODAY.

Hugh Lim, Chief Executive of Building and Construction Authority (BCA), revealed that 5% of the construction workforce or another 20,000 workers will be allowed to return to work as part of this gradual restart.

He noted that the workers should be tested for Covid-19 first, while the resumption of works will require BCA’s approval depending on whether the employers could ensure a safe restart in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A Covid-safe workforce is critical to a successful restart of the construction sector. Employers will be required to demonstrate that they are able to meet the criteria before they are allowed to restart,” said Lim.

The criteria include having a system that enables employers to track their workers’ health on a daily basis and regular Covid-19 tests for workers.

Dedicated transport must also be catered for between the workers’ accommodation and the worksites. During the ride, workers should be seated at a safe distance from each other.

The capacity would be halved for transports in open air setting, like in the back of a lorry.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said the government may also consider resuming renovation works if contractors can ensure that such works can be done safely, including work arrangements, housing and transport of workers, under the new Covid-safe rules.

Other measures that must be undertaken by employers include the appointment of safe management officers who will implement safety rules across the worksite, the putting up of health advisory infographics and posters in the native languages of workers, and the use of technology-enabled processes, such as the SafeEntry system, to facilitate effective tracking and compliance within specific zones of the worksite.

Employers should also ensure safe distancing and reduced physical interaction at worksites. Workers performing different activities must also be segregated, while cross-deployment will not be allowed between workers in different teams, shifts and worksites.

Employers are also mandated to provide workers with individually packed meals and personal tableware as well as masks while at the worksite.

To ensure compliance, an audit and inspection will be conducted at the resumed project worksites, said Lim.

He also revealed that the authorities are working through the list of projects for restart, which includes HDB BTO projects on the “priority list”.

Related: East or West? HDB’s May 2020 BTO Launch at Bukit Batok, Choa Chu Kang, Tengah, Pasir Ris, and Tampines

“We have a list of projects we have identified, these are mainly critical and time-sensitive ones, it is on the basis of the merits of the project, it’s on the basis on whether the contractor is ready and has the safeguards in place, even if the project is meritorious,” said Wong, who also serves as the co-chair of the multi-ministry task force leading Singapore’s response to Covid-19.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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