Employers should refer to the 24-hr PSI forecast on the NEA website, as well as the updated health advisories on the NEA website (www.nea.gov.sg) or the Haze website (www.haze.gov.sg).
The impact on one’s health is dependent on the quality of air, duration of exposure and one’s health conditions. Employers can take reference from MOM’s guideline to employers, available on MOM’s website (www.mom.gov.sg/haze) and the Haze website (www.haze.gov.sg) for general measures to minimise or mitigate the effects of haze on their employees. Additional measures specific to the work requirements and health conditions of the employees would have to be instituted based on the risk as assessed by the employers.
Risk assessments and mitigating measures
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 to reduce the risks to workers to as low as reasonably practicable.
Examples of such risk mitigating 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
Wearing of masks and respirators
If prolonged or strenuous outdoor work is unavoidable such as due to extenuating circumstances, employer is strongly urged to provide masks for such workers. Employees who need to wear masks or respirators should be fit-tested to ensure good fit.
Employers should also ensure sufficient stock of masks or respirators for these employees, and to conduct proper training and supervision to ensure correct usage of the masks or respirators.
Masks should be changed when soiled or physically damaged or when the wearer finds it hard to breathe.
Vulnerable employees, such as the elderly, pregnant employees as well as those with chronic heart or 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.
Flexible work arrangements
During haze episodes, employers are strongly encouraged to adopt a flexible and enlightened approach in allowing employees to use flexible work arrangements. This is especially so for vulnerable employees, such as the elderly, pregnant and those with chronic heart or lung illnesses. Such flexible work arrangements may 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 paid annual leave or sick leave entitlements, employers could consider granting them advance leave or other leave arrangements. In such situations, the employees’ wages should not be deducted.
MOM’s guidelines provide general measures that employers can take to mitigate the risks their employees face in a haze situation, and is not meant to be prescriptive.
Employers should carry out a proper risk assessment of their various work activities and implement appropriate measures (such as identifying appropriate rest periods) so as to ensure that the risks identified are minimised or mitigated.
Workers should first raise their concerns to their supervisor, HR department and union representatives. If no action has been taken, workers can call MOM at 64385122 for general advice.
If there are significant safety concerns on outdoor work during the haze situation, workers can report it to MOM.
Workers should first raise their concerns to their supervisor, HR department and union representatives. If no action has been taken, workers can call the MOM Contact Centre at 6438 5122 for general advice.
If there are significant safety concerns on outdoor work during the haze situation, workers can report to MOM.
Under the Workplace Safety & Health Act (WSH Act), employers have a duty to protect their employees’ safety and health at work.
Employers should adequately mitigate the risks posed by the haze to the safety and health of workers, by taking reference from the guidelines. Failure to do so, may result in enforcement actions by the MOM under the WSH Act, which may include issuance of stop work orders and composition fines.
Under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), an employee who sustains an illness or injury arising out of and in the course of employment is eligible to claim work injury compensation from his employer.
Employers should notify MOM through WSH Incident Reporting if any employee has sustained an illness or injury due to working outdoors during the haze. For cases where the employee is able to recover over time and resume work without permanent ill effects, employers should pay any medical leave wages and medical expenses due directly to the employee.