Firms activate contingency measures

A worker wearing a N95 mask as prevention against haze while working at a construction site.
A worker wearing a N95 mask as prevention against haze while working at a construction site. PHOTO: ST FILE

Companies have begun activating their haze contingency plans as the pollution reached unhealthy levels yesterday. The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was 132-148 at 11pm, its highest level this year.

Telco Singtel has distributed 5,000 N95 masks to all employees who have to work outdoors.

Should the air quality get worse, Singtel will also suspend outdoor work for its field operators and contract workers, except for the maintenance of critical infrastructure, the company said yesterday.

Hexacon Construction's director of projects, Mr Dominic Choy, said N95 masks are available at its sites. Workers are encouraged to take more frequent breaks when PSI readings breach 100, and those feeling unwell are advised to stop work.

"Should the PSI readings exceed 300, we will suspend heavy manual work, and beyond PSI 400, we will suspend all work," he said. "This costs us, but it is more important to make sure our workers are safe."

According to Ministry of Manpower guidelines, employers should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor work for regular employees when PSI levels are in the unhealthy range. Elderly or pregnant workers should minimise such duties, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid such work.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Firms activate contingency measures'. Print Edition | Subscribe