COMMENTARY ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) in the New Normal

OSH should be taken seriously as the economy reopens because the pandemic is not yet over. Aside from implementing general workplace safety measures, such as those advocated by World Health Organisation, there should be a set of health and safety guidelines for construction operations. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) issued a set of COVID-Safe Worksite Criteria to help industry players resume construction projects and activities, as summarised below.

Before works start
There should be a system of safe management at worksites, which includes appointing personnel for inspections, checks and corrective actions. Builders have to appoint Safe Management Officers (SMOs) and Safe Distancing Officers (SDOs) to implement and coordinate. There should also be segregation of teams, which includes staggered working and break hours, as well as segregation at shared facilities, both at construction sites and dormitories.

Site entry/exit
Contact tracing is imperative. Workplace access is limited only to essential employees and authorised visitors. Health checks and protocols should also show records for at least 28 days.

During site operations
Physical distancing must remain in place and cleanliness must be ensured. Telework is encouraged and inspections could be done virtually. All workers must wear personal protective equipment. Short-term workers, such as testers, specialist contractors and vector control, should only go to their designated areas. Delivery of materials and precast components should be arranged in staggered manners as well.

Managing suspected cases
Employees are required to submit records of their medical checks and diagnoses provided. SMOs must put in place an evacuation plan for suspected cases. In case of confirmed cases, SMOs will immediately vacate the immediate section of the workplace premises where the confirmed case worked.

– Construction+ Online

Source: Building and Construction Authority

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