News: 40,000 foreign workers can resume work without need of BCA approval

Aug 13, 2020

The workers will need to meet four specific conditions to see their AccessCode turn green. 

Foreign construction workers involved in home renovations, facilities management, lift maintenance, vector control and maintenance of construction sites can now resume work without having to apply for the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) approval.

To benefit around 40,000 workers, the move is part of measures to restart work with the necessary measures in place, reported Channel News Asia (CNA) citing a BCA.

The workers, however, must have been cleared of COVID-19, are not on stay-home notice and live in COVID-19 cleared dormitories. Also, they should have installed the TraceTogether app.

Workers who meet the four conditions will see their AccessCode status turn green on the SGWorkPass platform, which means they are allowed to resume work.

BCA noted that companies still need to apply for approval to restart work at construction sites as well as supply work premises.

“Main contractors will continue to make the application on behalf of its subcontractors and the subcontractors’ workers for such works,” said BCA as quoted by CNA.

To facilitate faster construction restart, the rule limiting construction projects to allow only workers from up to 10 different addresses will be temporarily suspended.

“During this time, employers should work towards cohorting their foreign workers together in their accommodation, minimally by employer,” stated BCA.

It added that employers should continue to work closely with accommodation operators to ensure safe living measures. Foreign workers should also be provided with dedicated transport.

“Contractors should take into account the larger number of workers on-site and enforce strict zoning of their workforce, and ensure that workers residing in different accommodation or performing different activities do not intermingle on site,” said BCA.

Audits and inspections at worksites will be stepped up to ensure compliance with the rules.

To minimise intermingling of workers, cohorting will be conducted at 43 dormitories, which were licensed under the Foreign Employee Dormitories Act and house around 160,000 workers.

Workers and employers will be notified in advance of the schedule to provide workers adequate time to prepare for their shift and pack their personal belongings, explained BCA.

Workers with “green” AccessCode status and living in cleared dormitories will be allowed to continue working even when the exercise, which should be completed by 30 September, is underway.

AccessCode statuses of workers staying in dormitories that fail to do so by such date will become “red”, which means they are no longer allowed to work.

Foreign workers living in dormitories accounted for majority of Singapore’s COVID-19 cases.

To manage the risk of new outbreaks, foreign worker dormitories are being actively monitored by authorities, even as all foreign workers staying in them have been tested of COVID-19.

Several safe management measures have also been put in place to lower the risk of infection, including regular routine testing, temperature checks and monitoring of wastewater at higher risk dormitories.

“With more daily movements in and out of the dormitories, it is even more important for everyone to remain vigilant to guard against new infections,” said the Ministry of Manpower, BCA, the Economic Development Board and the Health Promotion Board in a joint release.

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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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