Transmission at worksites

We refer to the MOM/BCA statement issued on 18 April 2020.

We note the statement that “contact tracing suggests that transmissions at common construction worksites may have contributed to the increase in numbers.”

This paints a picture of infectious workers still working at worksites. They might have been asymptomatic, but more likely they could have been mildly symptomatic but did not want to see a doctor or take a day off.

It is good that the authorities have spotted a trend from this risk which we mentioned in our letter to the Straits Times Forum last month wherein we said

“There is another vulnerability, not often known to the public. Some employers of foreign workers have a company policy that imposes fines that are several times a worker’s daily salary for failing to show up at work. We have also heard of employers who refuse to recognise medical leave of more than one or two days’ duration.

“Such measures discourage workers from seeing a doctor when ill; they also require sick workers to remain at work despite symptoms.”

Going forward, even when construction activity resumes post-Covid-19, we must ensure that such practices are stamped out so that we do not have a repeat of such a situation. Workers must feel free to seek medical attention and rest if a doctor so orders, without fearing penalties.

In working with everyone in the joint effort to stem the Covid-19 tide,TWC2 will continue to flag up risks and come up with workable solutions to better protect the well-being of our workers and, by extension, Singapore as a whole.