All Migrant Workers In Construction Will Be Tested Before Resuming Work, So Costs Will Rise, Says Minister

As the number of Covid-19 cases in the wider community goes down, Singapore is preparing to resume construction work that was put on hold during the ‘Circuit Breaker’.

That would involve many of our now-isolated migrant workers going back to work — those who have not been infected, at least.

Hence, all migrant workers working in construction will have to be tested before returning to work, to prevent the disease being further spread at construction sites.

However, this will increase the costs of construction work in Singapore — a cost that “all of us” must be prepared to bear.

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Migrant workers in construction to be tested every 2 weeks

In a media release on Friday (15 May), the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) set out some guidelines for the “gradual resumption” of construction work in Singapore.

One of them is that migrant workers from the construction industry must be tested before they can resume work.

In fact, these workers’ health status will have to be tracked not just before starting work, but every day — in a system that employers will have to formulate and implement.

Ideally, the workers will have to be tested for Covid-19 every two weeks, BCA chief executive Hugh Lim was reported by Channel NewsAsia as saying.

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Who will bear the extra costs?

Such regular testing will increase costs, and at a media briefing on Friday (15 May), a reporter asked the multi-ministry taskforce handling the Covid-19 outbreak who will bear these extra costs — the Government, or the employers, in a cost-sharing situation with the Government?

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong replied,

As with all regulatory requirements, the principle must be that the company must bear the cost.

Thus, he was quite certain that construction costs in Singapore will be higher, and because we all would want construction work to be done safely without risk of virus transmission,

All of us have to be prepared to pay this higher cost.

Watch a video of Mr Wong’s reply here:

Other safe distancing measures to be followed by restarted projects

Besides the regular testing regime, the BCA will also require employers to record all people entering and leaving worksites via SafeEntry.

Workers will also have to be split into teams working at different areas and stagger their breaks to prevent mingling.

The workers will also be segregated by the project they are working in their accommodations, and transported accordingly between their accommodations and worksites.

The implementation of these safe distancing rules will be checked by the BCA using technology, it said.

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Bearing the burden to keep S’pore safe from Covid-19

We’re glad that the BCA will be going all out to make construction worksites safe from the transmission of Covid-19, even if that means construction work will be made more expensive.

The alternatives would be to halt construction work for even longer and trouble the economy more, or more widespread virus transmission among workers.

If the public has to absorb the extra cost, it’s a burden that we may have to bear to keep Singapore safe.

Featured image adapted from Facebook.