The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday unveiled enhanced regulations for work involving asbestos, a substance that could potentially cause lung cancer.
The WSH (Asbestos) Regulations will replace the existing Factories (Asbestos) Regulations and take effect from May 1. They were put together with the consultation of industry and public.
Under the new regulations, a competent person must be appointed to ascertain if asbestos-containing materials are present before commencement of demolition or renovation works on buildings built before Jan 1, 1991. Such buildings may have asbestos-containing materials like corrugated roofs, ceiling boards, floor tiling and partition walls, said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Dr Amy Khor, while introducing the new regulations.
Second, upon ascertaining that asbestos is present, asbestos removal work can only be done by an approved asbestos removal contractor under the supervision of a competent person. This will protect workers and "prevent the release of asbestos fibres into the air which can affect the public", Dr Khor said. The regulations also specify the technical requirements regarding the removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials.
WSH and MOM are also extending help to workers who have contracted asbestos-related diseases but may no longer be eligible to claim Work and Injury Compensation, given that these diseases could surface after a long period of time.
To help industry adapt to the new regulations, the WSH Council and MOM have developed the WSH Guidelines on the Management and Removal of Asbestos. The agencies have also produced a video to educate stakeholders on the health effects of asbestos exposure, where the substance can be found and how it should be removed. The guidelines and video can be found at www.wshc.sg.
Two training modules on the "Survey Asbestos and Other Fibres Risks at Workplace" and "Remove Asbestos from Workplace" have also been made available under the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) framework.