Over $141k in fines for breach of Covid-19 workplace safety rules in 2021, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Over $141k in fines for breach of Covid-19 workplace safety rules in 2021

More than 140 fines totalling over $141,000 were meted out last year for breaches of safe management measures at workplaces.

One firm was ordered to stop work, the Ministry of Manpower told The Straits Times last week, adding that it inspected 12,000 companies.

Common infringements of the Covid-19 safety measures include not ensuring that workers who are able to work from home do so and not implementing adequate safe distancing measures.

In December last year, wedding venue Orange Ballroom was fined $8,000 and a wedding organiser, $6,000, for hosting a wedding with 235 people in attendance when only 100 were allowed.

The authorities were also on the lookout in 2020. In November that year, a yacht manager allowed more than 10 social media influencers on board a craft - where they flouted safe distancing rules and took part in activities without wearing masks - to promote her business which organises events such as retreats. She was fined $7,000.

In October 2020, Gemma Steakhouse at National Gallery Singapore was suspended for 20 days for holding a dinner for 75 guests and not preventing diners at different tables from intermingling.

Infectious diseases expert Hsu Li Yang stresses the continued importance of mask-wearing, safe distancing and other good office protocols.

From Jan 1, up to 50 per cent of employees who can work from home are allowed to return to the office.

But Omicron - the most transmissible variant of the coronavirus to date and more capable of infecting even those who are fully vaccinated - has surfaced in Singapore.

At the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Wednesday (Jan 5), director of medical services Kenneth Mak said a worst-case scenario may see Singapore recording as many as 15,000 cases a day at the peak of the Omicron wave.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that while Delta variant infections were doubling in six to eight days at its peak, Omicron infections may double in two to three days.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam said a paced approach to reopening is needed to slow down  transmission and to prevent crippling the healthcare system with spikes in cases and deaths, which is seen even in countries with high vaccination rates, such as Denmark.

"More patience yields less patients," he added.

Singapore Human Resources Institute president Low Peck Kem said easing back into the workplace - one of the places with the highest infection rates - by complying with measures such as self-testing, group size caps and limits on social interaction, will prevent the need for a nationwide lockdown.

Ms Jaya Dass, managing director for Malaysia and Singapore at recruitment agency Randstad Singapore, said the best approach for companies is to continue work-from-home arrangements until after the Omicron wave or when the majority of the workforce have received their booster shot.

The firm is continuing its own work from home arrangement for now and incentivises its employees to get booster shots by giving them a day off after the jab to monitor their health. 

Dr Hsu said: "I think at this stage almost everyone is experiencing some sort of pandemic fatigue, hence adherence to safe management measures has slipped in general. However, the virus does not experience fatigue.

"But unlike last year where hopes of a pandemic exit were dashed, we are better placed now to see a clearer path to living with the virus."

covid-19Ministry of Health