Mandatory hourly rest breaks for outdoor workers if weather is too hot in Singapore: MOM

Mandatory hourly rest breaks for outdoor workers if weather is too hot in Singapore: MOM

SINGAPORE – Outdoor workers in Singapore must be given a 10-minute break for every hour the temperature exceeds 32 degrees Celsius, under a new set of guidelines to reduce the risk of heat stress.

The new measures will take effect immediately, and come after consultation with the Health Ministry’s heat stress expert committee, focusing on the four aspects of acclimatization, drinking, rest and shade, the Ministry of Manpower said in a media statement on Tuesday (October 24).

Employers of outdoor workers will be required to implement these measures, and the Ministry of Manpower will conduct inspections of workplaces to ensure that these measures are implemented appropriately.

“A warmer climate exposes workers, especially those who perform manual labor outdoors, to an increased risk of heat stress,” the ministry said in its media release.

“All workplaces should assess whether the work can be carried out safely, including implementing a heat stress management programme.”

Acclimatization, drinking, rest and shade

Under the Heat Stress Management Programme, the new measures are:

  • Adaptation: Workers new to Singapore or returning from a holiday longer than a week should gradually increase their daily heat exposure over at least seven days. Persons exposed to heat stress should be identified and their redeployment arranged.

  • He drinks: Rehydrate at least every hour, and drink the recommended amount of 300 ml per hour or more, depending on the rate of water loss based on the intensity of work. Work areas should be provided with a supply of fresh or cold drinking water nearby.

  • break: Make sure workers get adequate rest under shade to allow heat recovery before resuming work. The rest area should be close to the work area wherever possible. Employers must also provide hourly breaks of at least 10 minutes for heavy physical work activity when the wet globe temperature (WBGT) reaches 32°C or higher. It is recommended to provide longer rest periods as WBGT increases.

  • the shadow: Minimize exposure to direct sunlight in rest areas and work areas as much as possible, such as setting up tents.

Ensure worker safety in high heat stress environment

MOM has also included other measures to ensure workers are able to work safely in a high heat stress environment:

  • Reschedule work: Reschedule outdoor physical work to cooler parts of the day where possible.

  • Workplace ventilation: Cool rest and work areas using fans or air coolers, and provide workers with loose, light-colored clothing.

  • Monitoring factor: Recognize and report early symptoms and signs of heat-related illness through careful monitoring of the worker’s health status. Consider creating a buddy system so workers can look out for symptoms and signs of heat-related illness.

  • Emergency response: Develop an emergency response plan and implement reporting procedures. Workspaces should have cold water, ice packs, water misters, and cool boxes ready for such emergencies.

  • WBGT Monitoring: Monitor WBGT hourly during business hours, especially during the hottest periods of the day.

Construction sites with a contract value of $5 million or more, shipyards and process industries will be required to have a WBGT meter on site for local measurements, as these workplaces are likely to have prolonged outdoor activities. Other workplaces can use the NEA’s myENV app to monitor WBGT readings.

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