Protecting workers from the haze

The health and safety of workers are key concerns during this haze period ("Do more to protect outdoor workers" by Mr Jolovan Wham; Tuesday).

This is why even as businesses continue to function, they should not compromise on the health and safety of their workers. This is a more sustainable and balanced approach, as risk levels differ across different locations, the nature of work, working conditions and other factors, such as an individual employee's health.

We have been working closely with employer groups and unions to educate employers on measures to protect their employees from the effects of haze, through haze advisories and guidelines.

This includes making regular assessments about the suitability for work to continue, and to put in place relevant safety measures to protect workers.

For example, prolonged or strenuous outdoor work should be minimised or avoided when the air quality deteriorates.

Risk-mitigating measures that can be adopted include making use of mechanical aids to make work less strenuous, rotating jobs and scheduling more rest breaks for employees performing outdoor work. More information can be obtained from www.mom.gov.sg/haze

On the enforcement front, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) continues to conduct regular inspections of workplaces, and will address any haze-related complaints received.

Employees should raise their concerns first with their employers. They can also call the MOM occupational safety and health hotline on 6317-1111 or e-mail mom_oshd@mom.gov.sg if they have significant health and safety concerns.

Their identities will be kept strictly confidential. As worksite inspections are generic, employees need not fear reprisals from their employers.

Ho Siong Hin

Commissioner

Workplace Safety and Health

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 03, 2015, with the headline 'Protecting workers from the haze'. Print Edition | Subscribe