17 sites ordered closed

Staying safe:Foreign workers maintaining social distancing in a ‘rumah kongsi’ at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA: Stop work orders have been issued to 1% of restarted construction sites following inspections by the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), says Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

He said the CIDB had been inspecting constructions sites around the country since the MCO’s standard operating procedure (SOP) came into force in April.

“Until June 13, some 7,699 site visits have been made and from this figure, 2,171 sites (28%) have started operations, while 5,528 (72%) have yet to operate.

“From the 2,171 construction sites that have started operations, CIDB enforcement found that 1,784 (82%) complied with SOP, while 370 (17%) have not complied and warnings have been given.

“Stop work orders were issued to 17 (1%) sites, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

Apart from routine enforcement visits, Fadillah said the CIDB has also been engaging closely with other agencies such as the Health Department, Department of Safety and Health, Labour Department and other local authorities to ensure SOP and guidelines are followed.

Fadilah, who is also a Senior Minister, said the CIDB had also been facilitating visits by the agencies to construction sites to look at amenities for workers and provide advice to contractors on how to comply with requirements.

“In fact, Covid-19 cases in the construction industry so far were discovered before operations started.

“This is because contractors followed the SOP by sending their workers for Covid-19 swab tests as preparation to start work, ” he said.

Fadilah said the National Security Council (NSC) issued the MCO SOP on workers’ accommodation for all sectors, including construction.

The SOP, he said, detailed all measures requiring full compliance to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Soon observing a worker being sanitised before entering a construction site in George Town, Penang.Soon observing a worker being sanitised before entering a construction site in George Town, Penang.

This includes social distancing in dorms and other common areas, disinfecting common areas, checking temperatures and monitoring for any Covid-19 symptoms daily.

Fadilah said the NSC also issued an SOP for the construction sector that detailed measures to avoid spreading the virus.

In May, a cluster of Covid-19 cases were detected at a construction site following the government’s decision to impose mandatory testing of foreign workers in the sector.

The Health Ministry then said it detected 44 Covid-19 cases at a construction site in Kuala Lumpur.

Those infected were sent to Hospital Sungai Buloh. About 400 workers have undergone testing.

Their close contacts were quarantined and the construction site as well as rumah kongsi (workers’ quarters) were shut for disinfection.Meanwhile, the Master Builders Association of Malaysia (MBAM) president Foo Chek Lee said the construction sector’s compliance to guidelines for the sites and workers’ housing was increasing.

“Previously there was some confusion on the SOP (for construction sites) because there were different authorities imposing their own SOP.

“At the start, the Health Ministry, the Works Ministry, and even the local government had their own SOP for construction sites and the interpretations were different.

“However, the government has streamlined the SOP, so the guidelines are clearer and there are more and more sites opening up, ” he said.

Meanwhile, construction firms are still sorting out accommodation for their foreign workers.

“The government has given them three months, until Aug 31, to comply with regulations, ” he said.

He said while most big-time companies were already complying with the regulations, enforcement was needed to ensure that small-time or self-employed contractors follow the SOP as well.

He added that according to existing regulations, living spaces for workers – including a kitchen, rest area and sleeping area – must not be less than 4.5 sq metres in total per occupant.

Last year, the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Ameni-ties Act (Act 466) was amended to include workers from all industries, including construction, making it the responsibility of the employers to ensure that the workers stay in proper accommodation.

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