Forum Letter Replies

July 26, 2009

Construction Work Kept Within Noise Limits

In her letter “Stop construction work on Sundays” (Sunday Times, 12 July 2009), Ms Lam Ze Ying expressed concerns about the noise level from the construction works at St. Hilda’s Secondary School, and the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) works at Block 908, Tampines Avenue 4.

We apologise to Ms Lam for any inconvenience caused by the construction works. We would like to inform Ms Lam that noise limits set by the National Environment Agency (NEA) are more stringent for construction sites near hospitals, schools and residential areas. Construction companies are required to take noise abatement measures and manage their work effectively so as to comply with the noise limits. These limits vary by time period and by the type of premises affected by the construction noise. For example, night-time noise limits are more stringent than day-time limits.

Both the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) work closely with our contractors to ensure that they abide by all the rules set by the various regulatory agencies. For example, noise meters are installed at the school site to measure the noise level. Based on our site checks and inspections, we are satisfied that the noise levels at the school and at Block 908 Tampines Avenue 4 are within the permissible limits.

The LUP at Block 908 Tampines Avenue 4 was completed in February this year. As works were carried out within the residential block, the requirements were stricter and the contractors were allowed to carry out LUP works only from 8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Saturday excluding public holidays.

Ms Lam has also raised concerns over the working hours. Site inspections by the Ministry of Manpower’s Employment Inspectors showed that the workers do not work beyond the statutory limit of 12 hours on any given day including overtime. With shift deployment, it is possible for a worksite to operate longer hours than any individual worker deployed there. We thank Ms Lam for her feedback.

Chua Kwan Ping
Director, Finance & Development
Ministry of Education
Farah Abdul Rahim (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
for Permanent Secretary
Ministry of Manpower
Tan Quee Hong
Director, Pollution Control Department
National Environment Agency
Ng Say Cheong
Deputy Director (Upgrading Construction Management)
for Director (Building and Quality)
Housing & Development Board

Stop construction work on Sundays (Ms Lam Ze Ying, Sunday Times, 12 February 2009)

For the umpteenth Sunday, I have been woken up by the noise level from the construction site opposite my HDB flat at Tampines Avenue 4, where St Hilda’s Secondary School is undergoing reconstruction.

My questions are:

Are construction sites allowed to operate on Sundays under Singapore’s labour laws? With respect to workplace safety and health, should construction workers be allowed to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day? Is this legal and would it contribute to higher accident rates? Recently, on a Saturday, I noted that they operated from 8am to 8pm.

As a resident in a heartland area, I want a peaceful Sunday as I need to rest from a hectic work week and enjoy family time.

When I renovated my flat, my contractor told me the HDB does not allow contractors to work on Sundays as the noise would disturb others. My question then is, why are construction sites operating on Sundays? The noise level is much higher compared to one HDB flat undergoing renovation, and more residents are affected by this noise. The lift—upgrading programme workers at Block 908 also worked on Sundays. And why do they also work till 8pm on Saturdays?

I have called the police station in Tampines previously to provide feedback on the noise level and was told that they have given warnings to the nearby construction sites. This obviously did not have any effect as the construction continues even on Sundays.

If it’s illegal, then the construction site at St Hilda’s Secondary should be fined and operations on Sundays stopped. Would the relevant authorities — be it the Manpower Ministry, the HDB or town council — look into this and respond?

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