SINGAPORE – Close to 140 firms were told to cease on-site operations after serious breaches of Covid-19 workplace safe management measures introduced in March last year.
Another 280 firms were fined for failing to adhere to the measures, after an inspection of more than 36,000 workplaces since last March, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a Facebook post on Saturday (Feb 6).
In response to queries from The Straits Times, an MOM spokesman said: “The most common violation seen was companies having a high percentage of employees reporting to the workplace for extended periods despite them being able to perform their work from home.”
Some companies had also failed to implement safe distancing measures at workstations and meeting rooms, such as not spacing chairs 1m apart.
All companies fined by MOM were first-time offenders, said the spokesman.
With Chinese New Year around the corner, companies are reminded not to organise social gatherings such as lohei or Chinese New Year meals.
“Last month, Singapore saw the formation of two Covid-19 clusters at workplaces. The continued emergence of community cases and potentially more transmissible strains make the risk of workplace transmission a significant cause for concern,” noted MOM in the Facebook post.
It suggested that companies can show their appreciation for staff by sending them care packs or organising virtual celebrations.
MOM added that when workplaces are inspected, the ministry will liaise with the companies’ appointed safe management officers on their workplace health and safety plan.
The plan should include a roster for split team arrangements and an evacuation plan to be executed when there are unwell employees, especially those suspected to have Covid-19.
“There should be clear demarcation of safe physical distances (at least 1m apart), minimised common physical touchpoints, and regular cleaning of common spaces,” said MOM.
For breaches of safe management measures, first-time offenders can be fined up to $1,000 and repeat offenders up to $2,000.
MOM reminded employers and employees to continue observing safe management measures at work, which will be vital for the safe reopening of the economy.
Workplace safe management measures were put in place at the end of the circuit breaker period in June last year.
They were last eased on Sept 28 when more employees were allowed to return to the workplace.
Last month, the Singapore National Employers Federation, the National Trades Union Congress and MOM said working from home should remain the default arrangement to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission in offices.
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