Companies are responsible for the welfare of their employees, and this includes providing them with N95 masks if they need to work outdoors in heavy haze, or giving them frequent breaks, Minister of State for Manpower Amy Khor said yesterday.
"We need to emphasise that the safety and health of workers remain paramount," said Dr Khor, who was speaking at the Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee's first press conference.
But she also noted that life must go on, and there is no necessity for all work to come to a stop.
"It really depends on the nature of work, whether it is indoor, outdoor, whether it is strenuous, the duration of exposure as well as the health of the workers, whether they are frail, elderly and so on," she said.
She reminded employers that they have responsibilities under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
So, if it is not possible to avoid strenuous outdoor work, as the health advisory recommends, there must be other protective measures in place, she said.
This includes getting the workers to wear masks and allowing frequent breaks, monitoring the health of the employees closely, and granting them leave from work to rest at home when they are unwell or need to take care of family members.
She urged workers concerned about their employer's practices to raise their concerns with their supervisors, human resource departments and unions.
If that fails, they can turn to the Ministry of Manpower for help by calling on 6438-5122, or its safety hotline on 6317-1111.