Rising temperatures in Singapore will place workers, especially outdoor workers, at an increased risk of heat stress. In that regard, MPA Singapore issued new circular to provide advice as suggested by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), mentioning a combination of measures focusing on the four aspects of acclimatise, drink, rest, and shade.
mployers are also required to monitor the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) for every hour of outdoor work performed, especially during the hotter periods of the day. Workplaces can use National Environment Agency (NEA)’s myENV app to monitor WBGT readings.
Construction sites with a contract sum of S$5 million or more, shipyards and the process industry, will be required to have a WBGT meter on-site for localised measurements as these workplaces are likely to have prolonged outdoor activities.
When WBGT (oC) is 32 or higher, a minimum rest break of 10 minutes hourly under shade has to be provided to workers carrying out heavy physical activities. For workers with pre-existing health conditions, the rest duration should be longer or as advised by their doctors. Workplaces are also encouraged to effect a buddy system for early recognition of heat injury symptoms and implement prompt interventions when any worker shows signs of excessive heat exposure.
Heat Stress Measures for Outdoor Work
Under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act, employers and occupiers have duties to ensure that workplaces are safe and without risks to the health of every person within the premises and to protect the safety and health of every employee.
A warmer climate puts workers, particularly those performing manual work outdoors, at an increased risk of heat stress.
All workplaces are to assess if the work can be carried out safely, including implementing a heat stress management programme with the following key measures:
- Workers new to Singapore or returning from prolonged leave of more than a week should gradually increase their daily heat exposure over at least 7 days.
- Identify workers vulnerable to heat stress and make re-deployment arrangements where required.
- Rehydrate at least hourly, and drink a recommended intake of 300ml per hour or more depending on the rate of waterloss based on work intensity.
- Provide cool or cold drinking water supply near work areas.
- Ensure workers get adequate rest under shade to allow for recovery from heat before restarting work. Rest area to be near work area, where feasible.
- Provide hourly rest breaks of a minimum of 10 minutes for heavy physical work activity when wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT) reaches32°C or higher. It is recommended to provide longer rest periods as the WBGT increases
- Reduce direct sun exposureat rest areas and work areas as far as possible, such as by setting up tentages.
Employers will be required to implement these measures to reduce heat stress risks for outdoor workers and MOM will conduct inspections at workplaces to ensure that these measures are adequately implemented.