All employers should carry out proper risk assessments of their various work activities and implement appropriate measures, to ensure that the risks identified are minimised or mitigated.
Depending on the air quality, employers should first find ways to reduce or avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor work. Risk assessments, taking into account the impact of the haze, individual employee’s health, work demands and fatigue, etc, must be conducted and risk mitigating measures adopted. Examples of such measures include:
- Use mechanical aids (e.g. trolleys, hoists) to transport or carry heavy objects instead of manual lifting or carrying.
- Adjust work assignments or rotate jobs to shorten the time spent in outdoor work.
- Schedule sufficient indoor rest breaks for workers performing outdoor work.
- Ensure adequate hydration for workers.
- Monitor employees’ health by encouraging feedback on any symptoms that may occur.
- Defer non-essential work
If prolonged or strenuous outdoor work is not avoidable at higher PSI, and an employer still requires an employee to do so due to extenuating circumstances, suitable masks (e.g. N95 masks) should be provided. Employees who need to wear masks / respirators should be fit-tested to ensure good fit. Employers should ensure sufficient stock of masks / respirators for these employees, and conduct training and supervision to ensure correct usage. Masks should be changed when soiled/physically damaged or when the wearer finds it hard to breathe. Elderly and pregnant employees as well as those with chronic heart/lung disease should consult their treating doctors on the usage of masks.
Reference should be made to the Singapore Standard SS 548:2009: Code of Practice for Selection, use and maintenance of respiratory protective devices. Employers are strongly encouraged to adopt a flexible and enlightened approach in implementing flexible work arrangements for all staff, especially susceptible employees, such as the elderly, pregnant and those with chronic heart or lung illnesses. Examples of flexible work arrangements include telecommuting.
If their employees feel unwell and wish to rest at home, employers are encouraged to be flexible in allowing them to take their leave. For employees who have used up their annual leave/sick leave entitlements, employers could consider granting them advance leave or other leave arrangements. In such situations, the employees’ wages should not be deducted.