New Regulations Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act
The Workplace Safety and Health Act introduces revised requirements for employers under the Road Traffic Act from 1 January 2023.
44A and 44B of S65 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act
Employers of dual role drivers (a person required or authorised by the employer of that person to drive a lorry with workers on the rear deck, where driving such a lorry is not the primary work that the person is required to perform) must:
- Give a 30-minute minimum rest period for dual role drivers who have worked at least 6 hours in their work shift right before driving workers in lorry rear decks
Employers of lorry drivers who drive workers in the rear deck must:
- Assign a “vehicle buddy” to sit beside the driver at all times.
- Brief the "vehicle buddy" on their role in ensuring the driver is alert and able to drive safely (e.g. make sure the driver is fit to drive before driving off).
Under the existing requirements in the Employment Act, employers:
- Should not require drivers of lorries with workers on rear decks to work for over 12 hours a day (including driving, any other work activities, or overtime).
- Cannot deduct a driver’s salary for being behind schedule.
What are the consequences if an employer does not comply with health and safety regulations?
A first conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $200,000 and/or 2 years in prison.
An individual can be fined up to $2,000 for every day the contravention continues, while a corporation can be fined up to $5,000 for every day the contravention continues.
For a second and subsequent conviction where his offence causes death, a natural person may be subject to a maximum fine of $400,000. And, a maximum of $2,000 for every day the offence continues. A corporation will be subject to a maximum fine of $1 million. And, a maximum fine of $5,000 for every day the offence continues.
General requirements for lorries transporting workers on rear decks
As of 1 January 2023, all non-enclosed sides of newly registered lorries are required to have rain covers, at least one side of which must be transparent. And as of 1 July 2023, rain covers will be required for in-use light lorries. As well as of 1 January 2024 for in-use heavy lorries.
The Road Traffic Act outlines existing requirements:
- Before workers can be transported on the rear deck, all front passenger seats in the lorry's cabin must be occupied.
- Lorries must not transport an excess number of workers on the rear deck. Based on the minimum space requirement of 0.372 square metres or 4 square feet per worker.
- There must be a Maximum Passenger Capacity (MPC) label on the right side of the rear tailboard indicating the maximum number of workers that can be carried.
- It is critical to secure loads correctly, including lashing to prevent side movement when the vehicle is braking. This is to ensure that there is no danger to workers or other road users on the rear deck when the vehicle is braking.
- The side rails and canopy of vehicles used for worker transportation must extend 700mm above the rear deck and 300mm above the sideboards.
What can an employee claim in the event of an injury?
Work Injury Compensation Act
The Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) covers all employees except:
- Members of the Singapore Armed Forces;
- Officers of the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defence Force, the Central Narcotics Bureau or the Singapore Prisons Service; and
- Domestic workers.
Under S3 of the Act, an employee can claim as compensation:
- Medical leave wages
- Medical expenses
- Lump sum compensation
Read more: Personal Injury & Accident Law
In conclusion, employers should follow the recommended practices in the Workplace Safety and Health Act to ensure the safety of drivers and passengers. Additionally, drivers should adopt safe and responsible driving habits, get enough sleep, and not drive in a hurry. Drivers who feel unfit to drive (e.g. unwell, drowsy from medication) should contact their vehicle buddy or employer immediately and seek medical attention.
What are the responsibilities employers have under S12 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act?
As an employer, you must ensure the health and safety of your employees. Furthermore, you must protect those who may be affected by their work.
- Identify hazards and implement effective risk control measures using risk assessments.
- Maintain a safe work environment.
- Ensure adequate safety measures are taken for any equipment, machinery, plant, article, or process used at work.
- Plan and implement emergency response systems.
- Provide workers with adequate training, supervision, and instruction.
What are the responsibilities of the employees under health and safety laws?
As an employee, you are responsible for:
- Maintaining the workplace safety and health system, safe work procedures, and safety rules.
- Avoiding unsafe or negligent behaviour that may put yourself or others at risk.
- Ensuring your safety by using personal protective equipment. The equipment must not be tampered with or misused.
Thus, it’s important to note the changes to the existing requirements under the Workplace Safety and Health Act & Road Traffic Act in Singapore, both as an employer and employee.