The Haze: 30-sec honk signals construction workers to stop work

The Haze: 30-sec honk signals construction workers to stop work

SINGAPORE - Freeze - that is what 500 construction workers at the Punggol Waterway Terrace 1 worksite will do when they hear a 30sec honk from the tower cranes.

For that is the signal to stop work.

It also means the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading had climbed to the 400 mark. "That happened only once last Friday, when the PSI level was at 400. We stopped work for about two hours," director of Tiong Seng Contractors Derick Pay, 45, told reporters on Monday.

It was part of the precautions the company has in place to make sure its workers are not badly affected should the haze become bad.

Mr Pay said the company had distributed N95 masks to every worker on all its worksites in Singapore.

"When the PSI reading reaches 200, all the workers must wear their masks. At 300, those carrying out hazardous activities must stop work," he said.

When asked, he said hazardous work include those "at high altitudes, lifting heavy objects and those needing clear visibility".

And to ensure everyone complies, the horn on the tower cranes will sound.

"Twice at 200, when everyone has to wear their masks; and three times at 300," he said.

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Indian national Meenatchissundaram Sridhar, 29, who has worked in Singapore for seven years, said: "There is a briefing every morning before work starts, to tell us about the haze and remind us to wear our masks."

Members of the Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee (HIMC) visited the worksite along Punggol Way on Monday, where more than 1,000 Build-To-Order flats were being built; and were briefed by the management and workers.

The group also visited Changi Airport to ensure that they, too, did not compromise the health of their ground crew.

At a press conference after the visits, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said the airport has contingency plans in place since the last haze in 1997, and this time round, there were no significant delays caused by the haze.

"What's important here is Changi Airport uses Runway Visibility Range or RVR and this has no correlation with the PSI," he said.

"At one point there was a slight delay when the visibility at one of the two runways was affected. But with the procedures in place, it was for a short period only."

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, who heads the HIMC, told reporters he was gratified by the simple stories of Singaporeans, who, on their own accord, had "spontaneously reached out to the underprivileged and vulnerable".

"But they don't want us to highlight their good deed," he added.

Dr Ng later said the different ministries will be coming out with their own action plans over the course of the week, explaining what can happen should the haze return.

"We have consolidated and come up with these haze action plans, so all would know what we are supposed to do," he said.

"I urge the public to listen carefully about these changes that are required. We must slow down but not stop; protect our health but prevent mass disruption... We must be more understanding and adjust our expectations."

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