Firms take haze precaution measures to protect employees who work outdoors

The haze-shrouded skyline from the Marina Bay Sands' Sky Park at around 7pm yesterday. Air quality in the next 24 hours could be similar to that for most of yesterday. The one-hour PM2.5 readings are expected to remain in the normal band, while the 2
The haze-shrouded skyline from the Marina Bay Sands' Sky Park at around 7pm yesterday. Air quality in the next 24 hours could be similar to that for most of yesterday. The one-hour PM2.5 readings are expected to remain in the normal band, while the 24-hour PSI is forecast to be between the high end of the moderate range and the low end of the unhealthy range. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

As Singapore looks set to enter a seventh day of unhealthy air quality today for some parts of the country, companies with employees working outdoors are taking measures to protect their staff.

For instance, several construction and security firms and beachfront businesses are giving out N95 masks to employees and conducting haze awareness training for them.

Air quality here hit unhealthy levels for the first time in three years last Saturday, and has fluctuated over the past few days.

Going by forecasts that the National Environment Agency (NEA) issued yesterday evening, air quality in the next 24 hours could be similar to that for most of yesterday.

The one-hour PM2.5 concentration readings are expected to remain in the normal band, while the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is forecast to be between the high end of the moderate range and the low end of the unhealthy range.

But if haze from the surrounding region is blown in, the one-hour PM2.5 reading could enter the elevated band.

Air quality worsened on Wednesday and early yesterday, but became better later, with the NEA saying that this was due to stronger winds blowing from the south-east that helped to disperse the haze away from Singapore.

By 9pm, the one-hour PM2.5 reading was 18-28 micrograms per cubic m, within the normal band, and the 24-hour PSI reading was 88-98, in the moderate range.

Some firms with staff working outdoors are not taking chances.

The Lo & Behold Group said its indoor and outdoor dining outlets have been equipped with N95 masks for staff and customers.

If air quality reaches unhealthy levels, certain outdoor sections may close or have operating hours cut.

On Sentosa, N95 face masks and eye drops have been made available to all staff. A Sentosa Development Corporation spokesman said health advisories based on the 24-hour PSI will be displayed at key outdoor locations should the haze reach unhealthy levels, and visitors who feel unwell can approach Sentosa rangers or service ambassadors for assistance.

 
 
 
 

The Singapore Contractors Association said it has sent out a haze advisory to its 3,200 members advising all construction firms to continually monitor the haze conditions and abide by Ministry of Manpower guidelines.

These include reducing outdoor work when necessary and rotating workers' outdoor shifts to prevent prolonged exposure to the haze.

Local security firms and cleaning companies said they have also distributed masks to their workers and issued advisories to employees to take precautions against the haze situation.

Security firm Apro Asian Protection said that N95 masks have been given to all 1,300 employees.

If the 24-hour PSI reading hits the hazardous level, there are plans to cancel external patrol duties and for officers to remain indoors unless attending to vehicle or human traffic.

And if it is required, the Ministry of Health said the Government has a national stockpile of 16 million N95 masks that can be released to the market.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2019, with the headline 'Firms take measures to protect employees who work outdoors'. Print Edition | Subscribe