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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Acting Minister for Manpower & Senior Minister of State, National Development, to Parliamentary Question on Measures by Employers to Ensure the Health and Safety of Employees Exposed to Higher Risks Due to the Haze

Mr Chen Show Mao: To ask the Acting Minister for Manpower in 2013 (a) how many workplaces are inspected by the Ministry to assess whether employers had taken appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of their employees exposed to higher levels of risks due to the haze; (b) how many stop work orders are issued to workplaces where employers are found to have not provided for adequate protective measures from the harmful effects of the haze; (c) how many persons are found in breach of stop work orders issued; and (d) whether persons found to be in breach of stop work orders will be prosecuted.

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin:

  1. MOM takes a holistic approach to ensure that the safety and health of our workers is looked after in the haze.
    1. Our immediate priority, since the onset of the haze, was to ensure that clear guidance was given to educate employers and employees on how to mitigate its ill-effects. We have issued a set of guidelines on this and continue to work with the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council to engage the industry so that all stakeholders are aware of what to do if haze levels worsen.
    2. Our next priority was to extend assistance. Arising from feedback from the WSH Council’s engagement efforts with the industry, we have established a framework to help mitigate the shortage of N95 masks in Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs). We are also working with the tripartite partners to help businesses make short term adjustments to their work arrangements so that their employees’ exposure to the haze can be minimised.
    3. The final step of our approach is enforcement, to ensure that safety standards are being conformed to.
  2. Given the short timeframe since the onset of the haze, the bulk of our efforts were focused on guidance and assistance to help employers put in place the necessary measures to mitigate the haze. In the area of enforcement, we have relied on our feedback channels to address concerns on the ground. To date, we have received and addressed 98 complaints and we have managed to resolve all issues with the employers concerned. Nevertheless, should the Ministry come across errant employers who blatantly disregard the safety and health of their workers, we will not hesitate to take action against them.