In response to the recent spate of construction-related deaths involving foreign workers, construction firms will receive foreign workers levy relief, with the purpose of construction industry recruitment, if training in safety is provided for foreign workers. The announcement was made by the Minister of State for Manpower, Sam Tan:
“By recognising Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) trained work permit holders as R1 workers, more companies can retain their skilled and experienced EHS workers as they enjoy a longer employment period of up to 22 years and lower levies. Employers will also have greater flexibility in deploying these multi-skilled workers on-site, reducing downtime and improving productivity. The sector’s WSH standards and quality of the construction workforce in Singapore will naturally improve.”
Construction sector highest cause of workplace death in Singapore.
The construction sector was responsible for 41 percent of all workplace related deaths last year. Inspections conducted by the Ministry of Manpower on more than 800 construction firms in May found over 1000 health and work related violations. Since the start of 2016, there had been 17 deaths – an increase of almost two-fold compared to the same time frame for 2015.
More severe penalties have also been imposed on the construction industry recruitment, including an increased minimum Stop Work Order period of 2-3 weeks, boosting the “Business Under Surveillance” programme, and suspension from hiring new foreign workers.
Conditions on how to receive the levy relief.
A relief of $350 will be given for basic skilled R2 workers with at least six years of construction experience and are certified by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA). Employers will also be able to retain R1 higher-skilled workers for 22 years, R2-graded workers for 10 years.
R2 Workers with six years of construction experience and possess a Skills Evaluation Certificate (knowledge) or SEC (K) can be certified as R1 workers if they also complete a 120-hour safety training course to obtain WSQ Advanced Certificate in Work Safety (WS).
The government is also taking steps to raise construction-related health, safety and environmental awareness through promotional campaigns. It is also strengthening its enforcement measures and getting the industry to follow Design and Safety regulations.