COVID-19: Construction sites can resume work from Jun 2; priority given to projects that follow new safety measures

COVID-19: Construction sites can resume work from Jun 2; priority given to projects that follow new safety measures

construction workers
Construction workers in Singapore. (File photo: Ernest Chua/TODAY)

SINGAPORE: Contractors that have met the COVID-19 safety measures for the construction sector announced by the Government on Friday (May 15) can begin work on their projects, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong. 

This is in addition to the plan to let critical and time-sensitive projects such as MRT works and sewerage system tunnelling projects to begin first when the “circuit breaker” is lifted, as well as activities that cannot be left idle for too long due to safety concerns. These projects will be allowed to resume from Jun 2, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said separately on Friday. 

READ: Construction workers to be tested regularly when projects gradually resume after circuit breaker

“If the contractor comes along and says, 'you have not prioritised me to be at the start of the list, but I am ready ... with all the precautions that you have required in your checklists' … then we will certainly be prepared for that particular contractor to start work,” Mr Wong said.

He said that while the Government will prioritise both the development of private and public housing, safety considerations come first.  

Without adequate precautions, cases and clusters are bound to emerge, and worksites will eventually be forced to shut, he added. 

READ: Number of COVID-19 community cases “likely” to go up as circuit breaker measures are eased: Gan Kim Yong

“We certainly understand that there will be people anxious about the status of their projects,” Mr Wong said. “(But) it is better for us to be careful.” 

At the worksites, companies will have to appoint safe management officers to enforce the safe management measures, put up health advisory posters and infographics in the foreign workers’ native languages, and install “technology-enabled processes” - such as the digital SafeEntry system used islandwide right now - when workers enter and exit specific zones within the worksite.

Workers will be split into teams and restricted to work in a single zone; no cross-deployment or interaction between workers in different teams will be allowed. 

Contractors must provide workers with individually packed meals and utensils as well as masks while they are on the job.

BTO PROJECTS ONE OF THE FIRST TO RESTART, PROVIDED SAFETY GUIDELINES ADHERED TO: BCA CEO

Hugh Lim, BCA’s chief executive, similarly said that while Build-to-Order (BTO) public housing projects will be one of the first types of developments that will be able to resume work, it still ultimately depends whether the contractor has the safety requirements in place. 

He also cautioned that Singapore's construction sector can expect "a very slow start" for at least a month or two before the authorities review how to speed activity up. 

If these safety protocols were difficult to implement, there would definitely be breaches if too many activities resumed too quickly, he added.

What the authorities want is to avoid a situation where the industry has to stop again after having restarted, Mr Lim said. 

Watch the full news conference and Q&A session: 


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Source: CNA/rp(rw)

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