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COVID-19 Singapore: Post-circuit breaker measures required at the workplace

  • Market Insight 15 May 2020 15 May 2020
  • Asia Pacific

  • Coronavirus

Singapore's circuit breaker, which came into effect on 7 April 2020, is expected to ease gradually after 1 June 2020. In light of this, Singapore's tripartite partners (the Ministry of Manpower, the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation) jointly issued on 9 May 2020 a set of Safe Management Measures that employers are required to implement upon resuming their operations.

COVID-19 Singapore: Post-circuit breaker measures required at the workplace

A summary of the Safe Management Measures is set out below:

1. Implementing a system of Safe Management Measures

​​To provide a safe working environment and minimise risks of further COVID-19 outbreaks, employers must implement a system of Safe Management Measures in a sustainable manner for as long as necessary, including: 

a. Implementing a detailed monitoring plan – to ensure compliance of Safe Management Measures and that non-compliance and risks are resolved in a timely manner.

b. Appointing Safe Management Officer(s) (SMO) – to assist in implementing, coordinating and monitoring the systems of Safe Management Measures and resolving non-compliance and risks in a timely manner. The SMO should also keep records of inspections, checks and corrective actions taken.  

2. Reducing physical interaction and ensuring safe distancing

Where possible, employers must ensure that:

a. Employees work from home.

b. Meetings are conducted virtually and physical meetings are minimised.

c. Events and activities involving close and prolonged contract amongst participants (e.g. conferences, seminars, exhibitions and social gatherings at the workplace) are cancelled or deferred. 

d. Special attention is given to vulnerable employees to enable them to work from home.

Where employees cannot work from home, employers must ensure that the following are implemented:

a. Staggered working and break hours to reduce possible congregation of employees in all common spaces (e.g. entrances, exits, lobbies, canteens and pantries).

Staggered working and break hours must be implemented over at least three one-hourly blocks, with not more than half of the employees reporting to work within each one-hour block (e.g. reporting times from 7.30am to 8.30am for group 1, 8.30am to 9.30am for group 2 and 9.30am to 10.30am for group 3, with corresponding staggered timings for lunch, other breaks and end of work).

 Where possible, reporting and ending timings should not coincide with peak-hour travel.

If staggered working and break hours are not possible, employers must implement other measures to reduce congregation of employees at common spaces (e.g. arrange for different groups of employees to arrive/depart through different entrances/exits).

b. Implementing shift or split team arrangements.

There must not be any cross-deployment or interactions between employees in different shifts and teams at all times, including outside of work.

If cross-deployment cannot be avoided, additional safeguards must be taken (e.g. ensuring no direct contact with cross-deployed employee).

c. Minimising need for common touchpoints in the workplace. Where physical contact is needed, additional safeguard must be taken (e.g. frequent disinfection of common touchpoints).

Where physical interaction in the workplace is required, employers must ensure:

a. Clear physical spacing of at least one metre between persons at all times by demarcating safe physical distances via visual indicators or through physical means at workstations, meeting rooms and common spaces. 

3. ​Supporting contact tracing requirements

a. Record proximity data on phones to help identify close contacts of COVID-19 patients and reduce transmission. Employers should encourage employees to download and activate the TraceTogether app.

b. Control access at workplace by limiting access to only essential employees and authorised visitors. The SafeEntry visitor management system must be used to record entry and exit of all employees and visitors.

Employees and visitors who are unwell must be refused entry to the workplace.

4. Requiring personal protective equipment (PPE) and observing good personal hygiene

a. Employers must ensure that everyone entering the workplace including employees and visitors wear a mask and other necessary protective equipment at all times. Employers must also ensure that there are sufficient masks for all employees at the workplace at all times.

b. Employers should encourage employees to observe good personal hygiene. 

5. Ensuring cleanliness of workplace premises

a. Employers must step up cleaning of workplace premises by ensuring regular cleaning and disinfecting of common spaces and shared machinery and equipment before changing hands. Cleaning and disinfecting of spaces where physical meetings are held and meals are taken must be done after each meeting or seating.

b. Provision of cleaning (e.g. hand soaps and toilet papers) and disinfecting agents (e.g. hand sanitisers) must be available at all toilets and hand-wash stations and human traffic stoppage points within the workplace (e.g. entrances, reception, lift lobbies, etc.), respectively. 

6. Implementing health checks and protocols to manage potential cases

a. Employers must conduct regular temperature screening and declarations for all employees and visitors.

Employees and visitors must declare: (i) their overseas travel history during the past 14 days; (ii) if they have been issued with a quarantine or isolation order, Stay-Home Notice, or medical certificate for respiratory symptoms; and (iii) if they have a close contact who is a confirmed case.

Declaration records must be kept for at least 28 days.

b. Employers must adhere to prevailing travel advisories.

c. Employers must ensure that employees do not clinic-hop and that they only visit one clinic for check-ups if unwell.

Employees who have visited a clinic must submit records to their medical certificates and diagnoses to employers, including if they were tested for COVID-19 and the test results.

d. Employers must have an evacuation plan to manage employees who are unwell or suspected cases. Employers must record such cases as part of Safe Management Measures.

e. Employers must have a follow-up plan in the event of a confirmed case.

Upon being notified of a confirmed case, employers must immediately vacate and cordon off the immediate section of the workplace premises where the confirmed case worked and carry out thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas exposed to the confirmed case, in accordance with the National Environment Agency's guidelines.

A checklist of the Safe Management Measures can be found here. Employers must ensure that all measures are in place and communicated to employees prior to resuming work.

In addition to the above, employers in the manufacturing sector, with customer-facing operations or in the transportation sector must adopt certain sector-specific measures.

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