Hourly Breaks for heavy outdoor work introduced in Singapore
Workers with heavy physical activities are now mandated to have a 10-minute break under shade every hour as announced by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM).
Under this mandate, the compulsory break will be observed once the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) reaches 32 degrees Celsius or higher.
The WGBT is an internationally recognised measurement of heat that considers the effects of humidity, wind, and solar radiation. With the consideration of these factors that result in heat stress, the WGBT provides a more accurate measure of how environmental conditions feel, and the potential health risks that can be associated with them.
This order came after consultations with the Ministry of Health’s Heat Stress Expert Panel, where it was revealed that the rising temperature in Singapore posed an increased risk of heat stress to Singapore's outdoor workers.
The 10-minute break should be longer for workers with existing health conditions, especially those advised by their doctors. The duration is also subject to increase, depending on how high the WGBT may be. The location of workers should also be considered by companies, as more rest will be required for those areas without any shade they can rest under.
Effective 01 January 2024, shipyards, construction sites, and the process industry with a contract sum of over $5 million are also mandated by the MOM to maintain a WGBT meter on their sites. Meanwhile, other outside workplaces can monitor WGBT readings through the National Environment Agency’s myENV application.
MOM is set to conduct inspections at workplaces to ensure the implementation of these new directives, and companies who will not adhere to these measures can be penalised with stop work orders and composition fines under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.