As the Circuit Breaker (CB) lockdown implemented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic enters Phase One of their safe reopening, more Singaporeans will gradually be allowed to return to work, as economic activities that do not pose a high risk of transmission will be allowed to resume. Besides essential businesses that are already operating, businesses that operate in settings with lower transmission risks will be allowed to return to their respective offices, which include:
- Most manufacturing and production facilities, for example, semiconductors and medical technology;
- Most businesses with employees working in offices and settings that do not require interactions with large groups of people, like finance, insurance, information technology and services.
Nonetheless, the Singapore government has urged everybody to continue work from home arrangements wherever possible and to only leave their homes and return to office only for essential activities. Telecommuting must be adopted to the maximum extent in businesses that re-open.
For businesses that seek to reopen their workplaces, employers must put in place and enforce safe management measures at the workplace, and employees must adhere strictly to them. Random checks by the authorities will be conducted from time to time, and businesses that are found non-compliant with these regulations will be forced to close their workplaces.
In light of these new measures set in place by the Singapore government as they seek to re-ignite the economy while curbing the spread of COVID-19, we have compiled a list of measures every business should be aware off and ought to take in order to be compliant with the new regulations, safeguard the health of their employees and to be able to operate their businesses with optimal efficiency with less worry.
1. Minimise socialising. Ensure clear physical spacing of at least 1 metre between persons at all times.
While at work, all personnel should not be encouraged to socialise in and out of the workplace, and their meals and breaks should be taken separately in order to minimise physical contact. Safe physical distances should also be demarcated where people usually congregate. It is also advisable to limit the number of sessions and attendees for physical meetings and to conduct them online preferably.
2. Practice good hygiene and step up cleaning of premises
All personnel should also observe good personal hygiene by constantly washing their hands and sanitizing whenever necessary. Employers should provide cleaning and disinfecting agents at toilets, hand washing areas, human stoppage points (entrances), meeting rooms, common spaces and step up the cleaning of workplace premises.
3. Adhere to travel advisories and control access to workplace only to essential employees and authorised visitors
All employers must use a SafeEntry visitor management system to check in and out (for contact tracing by the Ministry of Health).
- Personnel who are found to be unwell (high temperature) are to be rejected entry. If visitors arrive without a mask, they should also be denied entry into the premises. It is imperative that everybody returning to work continue to wear their masks at all times. Employers must provide sufficient masks for all of their employees in order to enforce this rule.
- They must also declare via SafeEntry that they are not under quarantine order or stay at home notice, or to have had close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days; and are not exhibiting fever/flu-like symptoms.
- Businesses should also minimise need for physical touchpoints. It is advisable to adopt contactless access controls rather than a fingerprint device that could result in the spread of bacteria. If physical contact is needed, they should be disinfected frequently.
- Regular checks for temperature and respiratory symptoms for all onsite employees and visitors should be conducted constantly. These should be conducted twice daily or wherever relevant; employers also must demonstrate this measure is in place during routine inspections by authorities.
With all these new measures in place, it can be quite a tedious process to constantly and effectively manage it, especially if you need to assign particular personnel to standby entry and exit points to constantly monitor everybody’s temperature and fill out health declaration forms.
With JustLogin’s SafeClock device that is integrated with JustLogin cloud-based HR Management System, safety management measures for your company becomes automated and a whole lot easier. SafeClock is your assistant to scan the temperature of employees and visitors automatically all day long. When fever is detected, administrators will instantly be notified on JustLogin’s HR management system and visitors could be rejected entry. SafeClock is also integrated to SafeEntry and would allow businesses to monitor visitors and enforce entry based on registered users, temperature and mask detection. Registered employees will be identified via facial recognition. Unregistered visitors will have their photos and time of entry captured for contact tracing.
4. Stagger work and break hours among employees
It is imperative that not all your workforce go back to the workplace at the same time. Staggered work hours should be in place, and must be over at least three 1-hour blocks (e.g. 8 am to 5pm, 9 am to 6pm, 10 am to 7pm) with no more than half of employees reporting to work within each block.
If possible, work hours should try and avoid peak-travelling hours to minimise possibility of contact. However, if all these are not possible due to the nature of their work (e.g. manufacturing production line activities), businesses will then have to implement other measures to prevent mass congregation of staff, e.g. require employees to arrive in different entrances/exits.
JustLogin’s fully automated attendance tracking module, JustClock, allows for staggered shift management to ensure that you are able to manage your employees’ work shifts efficiently. With JustClock, it will be very easy for employers to implement shift or split team arrangements. This will ensure that there are no cross-deployment or interactions between employees of different teams or shifts even outside work. It should also be mandatory that employees cannot work in more than one team/worksite. Employees should also try to step up cleaning of common areas when changing their shifts. When employees scan their temperature on SafeClock, their clock in and out timings are recorded in the cloud-based HR platform. Administrators can be notified of employees who are not keeping to their shift timings.
5. Implement a system for safe management measures
A safe management officer should be appointed to actively monitor unwell employees. All employees should be encouraged to download and activate the TraceTogether app to record their proximity data on their phones. However, despite active measures being taken, one should always be prepared for every possibility and the proper evacuation path and follow up plan should be enacted for anybody suspected of being infected or confirmed with COVID-19. Any employee who is feeling unwell or showing symptoms of illness should report to his employer, leave the workplace and consult a doctor immediately, even if symptoms may appear mild. Employers must track and record these cases as part of Safe Management Measures. For incapacitated or unconscious individuals, employers must clear the area of other personnel and administer aid immediately. Employers should call 995 for an emergency ambulance to ferry them to the nearest hospital.
Once a case is confirmed, businesses should immediately vacate and cordon-off the immediate section of the workplace premises where the confirmed case worked. There is no need to vacate the building or the whole floor if there had been no sustained and close contact with the confirmed case; and carry out a thorough cleaning and disinfecting all relevant on-site areas and assets that were exposed to confirmed cases, in accordance with the guidelines of the National Environment Agency. For worksites with confirmed cases, businesses could be suspended if there are public health grounds.
Ultimately, we hope that all businesses will adhere to these guidelines that were set in place by the Singapore government in order to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for everybody as we work together to stop the spread of the invisible enemy, COVID-19.
SafeClock. Clock in safely to work.
A contactless facial recognition temperature scanner, attendance tracker and door access all in one. Fully integrated with JustLogin’s HR Management System for centralised employee information and monitoring as well as the SafeEntry Management System set by the Ministry of Health. Protect your company against the invisible threat, COVID-19, and ensure your business is safe and compliant. Contact us here.
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