Firms take steps to protect employees

Some issue N95 masks and give PSI updates; malls and pre-schools also take action

Many organisations here have already taken steps, such as issuing masks or adjusting outdoor activities, to cope with the haze.

At 8pm yesterday, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was between 114 and 138, putting it in the unhealthy range.

SingPost issued N95 masks and eye drops to its delivery personnel; staff older than 65 or who have respiratory and heart conditions were redeployed to do indoor work.

Delivery firm foodpanda Singapore also issued masks and antiseptic wet tissues to its delivery drivers.

"Riders have been advised to inform their manager immediately if they feel unwell, and are instructed to rest until their symptoms ease," said Ms Emma Heap, managing director of foodpanda Singapore.

MAINTAINING AIR QUALITY

To maintain the air quality, we will also lock the automatic sliding doors and direct shoppers and tenants to use the manually operated side doors when the PSI readings exceed 150.

MR JASON LOY, head of operations for Singapore at CapitaLand Mall Asia

Security firms such as Certis Cisco and Force-One Security have also taken steps to protect employees.

Apart from N95 masks, Certis Cisco also issues hourly PSI updates and advisories. "When the PSI reaches hazardous levels, outdoor patrols may be temporarily suspended," said its spokesman.

Meanwhile, Force-One Security has issued its "Haze Carepack", comprising masks, wet wipes, hand sanitiser sachets and brochures on how to wear a mask properly and how to keep healthy.

Malls under CapitaLand and Frasers Centrepoint closed all outdoor features such as playgrounds and cancelled all outdoor activities at their mall premises when the air quality turned unhealthy.

They have also stepped up checks on their air-conditioning filters to ensure they are running optimally.

"To maintain the air quality, we will also lock the automatic sliding doors and direct shoppers and tenants to use the manually operated side doors when the PSI readings exceed 150," added Mr Jason Loy, head of operations for Singapore at CapitaLand Mall Asia.

  • Some official measures in place

  • STUDENTS

    Schools will minimise outdoor activities if the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading is above 100, and cancel all physical activities if it goes above 200.

    If air quality hits hazardous levels with a PSI reading of above 300 during school hours, lessons will be scaled down and students kept indoors. If hazardous levels are forecast for the next day, schools may be closed. National exams will be rescheduled and exam periods extended if needed.

    PATIENTS

    The Haze Subsidy Scheme, which subsidises treatment for haze-related conditions at participating general practitioners and polyclinics, has been restarted from today.

    Those in the Pioneer Generation pay up to $5; other eligible Singaporeans, such as low- or middle-income earners and children, pay up to $10.

    Participating GPs will display a Public Health Preparedness Clinic logo.

    The list of clinics is also available on www.moh.gov.sg/haze

    WORKERS

    The Manpower Ministry, together with the Singapore National Employers Federation and National Trades Union Congress, has issued an advisory to help firms better implement haze-related contingency plans.

    Employers can visit www.mom. gov.sg/haze for information on leave and salary matters.

    SOLDIERS

    The Singapore Armed Forces will scale down physical and outdoor activities if the 24-hour PSI exceeds 100. Military personnel who are performing essential outdoor duties will be issued with N95 masks when the PSI exceeds 300.

    HOUSEHOLDS

    The People's Association will distribute 30,000 care packages to vulnerable households, such as those with seniors who have respiratory conditions. The package includes an N95 mask and non-perishable food like instant noodles and Vitamin C tablets.

    Linette Lai

Those who are feeling unwell can also obtain haze kits comprising masks and water bottles from the customer service counters at CapitaLand malls.

Meanwhile, the Early Childhood Development Agency has issued an advisory to pre-schools. It lists haze management measures including minimising outdoor activities, and modifying indoor programmes to be less physically intensive once the 24-hour PSI hits unhealthy levels of 101 to 200.

Over at NTUC's My First Skool, school principalshave also been watching out for pupils who are unwell. Portable air purifiers may also be deployed if needed.

On Monday, a surge in traffic on the National Environment Agency's haze microsite caused it to crash for three hours.

There had been around 40,000 searches per second on the website before it crashed, about 40 to 50 times the number before the haze season started.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources said yesterday that it has since put in place new software to try and prevent further crashes.

However, the haze microsite was down again last night.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2015, with the headline 'Firms take steps to protect employees'. Print Edition | Subscribe