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BCA announces measures to accelerate restart of construction projects

THE Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Wednesday said it is implementing further measures to accelerate the resumption of construction work, as almost all foreign dormitories have been declared cleared of Covid-19 by the Inter-Agency Taskforce (ITF). 

These include allowing all companies and their foreign construction workers to resume work outside construction sites and supply works premises without seeking approval from BCA; temporarily suspending the 10-accommodation criteria; and allowing workers to resume work while cohorting is being carried out in Foreign Employee Dormitories Act-licensed (FEDA-licensed) dormitories.

More than 3,300 construction site projects have been approved to resume work, BCA said, adding that it has been focusing on helping construction companies restart their projects safely since the end of the "circuit breaker" on June 2.  

PERMISSION TO RESUME WORK WITHOUT APPLICATION TO BCA

About 40,000 workers are expected to benefit from the latest measure in granting companies permission to proceed with work without applying to BCA. 

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However, for the deployment of workers at construction sites and supply works premises, main contractors are still required to apply for BCA's approval to resume work, the authority said. To minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission, main contractors will have to set out in their applications the necessary safe management measures and continue to apply on behalf of subcontractors and their workers.

REVIEW OF COVID-SAFE ACCOMMODATION CRITERIA

Additionally, BCA has temporarily suspended the 10-accommodation restriction so that more workers can resume work, it said. 

Previously, each construction project was only allowed to have a maximum of 10 postal address of dormitories assigned to it. A spokesperson from the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd told The Business Times last week that many main contractors and subcontractors had given feedback that workers will not be able to start work unless there was a relaxation of the number of addresses per project.  

That said, BCA noted that employers should work towards cohorting their foreign workers together in their accommodation.

"Employers are to continue to work closely with accommodation operators to ensure safe living measures are practised at the workers' accommodation premises, and provide dedicated transport for their foreign workers to go to work," BCA said. 

Contractors should also take into account the larger number of workers on-site and enforce strict zoning, ensuring that workers residing in different accommodation or performing different activities do not intermingle on site.

On its part, BCA said, it will closely monitor the situation, stepping up audits and inspections at worksites.

COHORTING OF WORKERS IN FEDA-LICENSED DORMITORIES 

With the support of the Ministry of Manpower and ITF, BCA and the Economic Development Board (EDB) will work with operators of FEDA-licensed dormitories to facilitate cohorting of workers in dormitories minimally at the company level, BCA said. This is to minimise the intermingling of workers.

The exercise involves 43 FEDA-licensed dormitories housing about 160,000 workers.

Employers and workers will be informed of the cohorting schedule in advance, so that workers can prepare for the move, including packing their personal belongings, BCA said. 

In the meantime, workers living in cleared dormitories will be allowed to leave the dormitories to work, while the cohorting exercise is underway. Companies will need to cohort their workers by Sept 30, added BCA.

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