COVID-19: Government issues SOP for Construction Sector

Following the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s announcement on 1 May 2020 on the reopening of the economy[1], the construction industry is permitted to operate with effect from 4 May 2020 (‘MCO Phase 4’). Such operations will be subject to compliance with the standard operating procedure for construction issued by the Ministry of Works[2] (‘Construction SOP’).
 
What Activities are Allowed?
 
The Construction SOP provides that the following activities are allowed during MCO Phase 4:
 
  1. Any construction work as set out in the Lembaga Pembangunan Industri Pembinaan Malaysia Act 1994 (‘CIDB Act’). Section 2 of the CIDB Act defines ‘construction works’ as follows:
"...construction, extension, installation, repair, maintenance, renewal, removal, renovation, alteration, dismantling, or demolition of-
 
  1. any building, erection, edifice, structure, wall, fence or chimney, whether constructed wholly or partly above or below ground level;
  2. any road, harbour works, railway, cableway, canal or aerodrome;
  3. any drainage, irrigation or river control works;
  4. any electrical, mechanical, water, gas, petrochemical or telecommunication works; or
  5. any bridge, viaduct, dam, reservoir, earthworks, pipeline, sewer, aqueduct, culvert, drive, shaft, tunnel or reclamation works, and includes-
  1. any works which form an important and integral part of or are preparatory to or temporary for the works described in paragraphs (a) to (e), including site clearance, soil investigation and improvement, earth-moving, excavation, laying of foundation, site restoration and landscaping; or
  2. procurement of construction materials, equipment or workers, necessarily required for any work described in paragraphs (a) to (e).
  1. Any professional services in relation to the construction industry.
It should be noted, however, that companies are restricted from carrying out any activities listed in the List of Prohibited Activities. As at the date hereof, the List of Prohibited Activities does not include any construction-related works.
 
Submission of Information to Construction Industry Development Board
 
For the purpose of operations during MCO Phase 4, companies are required to submit information in relation to their ongoing construction projects to the Construction Industry Development Board of Malaysia (‘CIDB’) by way of CIDB’s online portal. In addition, companies should prepare and ensure that documents in relation to their ongoing construction projects are made available at the construction site or premises for inspection by the relevant authorities.
 
Operation Hours and Workforce Capacity
 
There is no stipulated number of operation hours for the construction industry. Pursuant to the Construction SOP, operations may be conducted on a 24-hours basis. However, any attendance to clients can only take place between 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.
 
Companies are also allowed to utilise one hundred percent (100%) of their workforce in their operations during MCO Phase 4.
 
Protocols for Operations
 
Social distancing and maintaining a high level of occupational safety and health are emphasised in the Construction SOP. In connection therewith, the Construction SOP outlines the protocols for the matter set out below:
 
  • Management of workforce;
  • Vehicles used for transportation of workers;
  • Movement of workers;
  • Transportation of construction materials and supplies;
  • Providing information to employees on Covid-19 preventive measures and company standard operation procedures;
  • Appointment of coordinator for the supervision of Covid-19 preventive measures;
  • Establishing an Emergency Response Protocol;
  • Cooperate with the relevant authorities by implementing contact-tracing;
  • Implementation of Covid-19 preventive measures at the entrance of the construction site or premises;
  • Implementation of Covid-19 preventive measures during the execution of construction works;
  • Decontamination of toilets;
  • Management of workers’ break time;
  • Returning from work reminders and notification;
  • Decontamination of workers’ accommodation at construction site or premise; and
  • Maintenance of records of workers’ details, cleanliness of construction site or premise, and company’s management of risk in relation to Covid-19.
Our summary of the protocols which the construction industry is required to implement in order to operate during MCO Phase 4 is available here.
 
Compliance with Laws and Other Standard Operating Procedures
 
Apart from the Construction SOP, companies are to take note of and comply with the relevant laws, in particular the CIDB Act and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, regulations by local authorities, and other standard operating procedures issued by CIDB[3], the Malaysia National Security Council, the Ministry of Health, and other relevant ministries or government agencies.
 
Commentary
 
The resumption of operations for the construction industry will be welcomed news for many companies with ongoing construction projects. However, given that the Construction SOP has an extensive list of protocols which companies are required to implement for the purpose of operation, it remains to be seen if operations can indeed be resumed as early as this week.
 
 
Our Construction and Engineering Practice Group will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments.
 
If you have any queries, please contact our Ms. Jocelyn Lim (Partner) at jocelyn.limyeantse@skrine.com  or Ms. Rachel Chiah (Associate) at rachel.chiah@skrine.com.
 

[1] Our earlier Alert on MCO Phase 4 is available here.
[2] An English translation by CIDB of the full text of the Construction SOP is available here.
[3] Our earlier Alert on the standard operating procedures issued by CIDB is available here.