Construction firms to pay lower levies for experienced foreign workers trained in safety

Construction workers building a scaffold against the backdrop of the Central Business District.
Construction workers building a scaffold against the backdrop of the Central Business District.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE -  Starting October this year, construction firms can pay lower levies for experienced foreign workers trained in safety, in a move to encourage bosses to send lower-skilled workers for courses.

The change was made to fight a rising number of fatalities in the construction sector this year, said Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan on Wednesday (June 22).

Between January and June, 17 construction workers died, double that of the same period last year.

Announcing the change at a workplace safety and health (WSH) event, Mr Tan said that "a concerted and urgent action must be taken to improve safety in the construction sector".

The experienced workers who are on work permits will be recognised as R1 skilled status. They can also be employed for up to 22 years.

To qualify for the scheme, workers have to have at least six years' experience and be certified by the Building and Construction Authority.

They must also complete at least 120 hours of training in approved training courses or obtain a certificate under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification framework.

Mr Tan said: "Employers will also have greater flexibility in deploying these multi-skilled workers onsite, reducing downtime and improving productivity.

"The sector's WSH standards and quality of the construction workforce in Singapore will naturally improve," he added.

Mr Kenneth Loo, president of Singapore Contractors' Association, said that the industry body "has been engaging the government for (these) workers to be recognised as R1".

"In construction, management commitment to keeping workers safe demonstrated through both words and action is critical for establishing and maintaining a positive safety climate," he added.