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Update On Crane Collapse At Hiap Shing

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), together with the WSH Council and the National Crane Safety Taskforce, is releasing its preliminary findings on the collapse of a gantry crane at Hiap Shing on 15 Dec 2009, which resulted in the death of one worker. Three other workers were injured. MOM, the WSH Council and the Taskforce would like to remind and emphasise to the industry the importance of safe use of cranes and the measures to be taken to ensure safe crane operations.

About the incident

2. At the time of the incident, several workers were involved in the construction of a new barge underneath the gantry crane. (See Annex A). Investigations show that the crane was lifting the bottom hull plate of the barge under construction when the crane failed.

3. One worker, 20 year-old Chinese national, Liu Wei, was pinned under the collapsed crane. He was pronounced dead on the spot by attending paramedics. Three other workers sustained injuries and were conveyed to hospital. Two of them, 26-year-old Chen Wangchi and 29-year-old Ziaur Rahman Abu Jafar, suffered minor injuries and have been discharged. The third worker, 59-year-old Thum Tuck On, sustained more serious injuries and remains warded in the National University Hospital.

MOM investigations and action

4. MOM's Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) investigators responded immediately to the incident and a Stop Work Order was issued. Preliminary investigation suggests that the girdle of the crane buckled during the lifting process. MOM is currently investigating further into possible factors that could have contributed to the crane collapse, including:

  1. Whether the crane was structurally sound to carry out the intended lifting operations?
    • Corrosion, wear and tear especially after years of service and lack of proper maintenance, could affect the integrity of the crane leading to reduced capacity
  2. Whether checks were conducted to verify the load was within the lifting capacity of the crane ?
    • Overloading the crane can easily lead to structural failure of the crane.
  3. Whether wrong work methods (e.g. using the crane to pull the steel plate instead of lifting it) were adopted?
    • Cranes are designed to lift and suspend loads vertically and should not be use for other purposes such as pulling or dragging loads on the ground.
  4. Whether personnel involved in the work were competent with lifting operations?
    • All lifting operations must be supervised by a competent lifting supervisor.

5. MOM has instructed Hiap Shing to develop a comprehensive plan with the assistance from a Professional Engineer to safely remove the collapsed crane. This is still in progress. MOM is also examining Hiap Shing's overall safety management system.

Industry urged to ensure crane safety

6. In the past three years, there were two other fatalities involving gantry cranes where workers were struck by the loads being lifted. The collapse of the whole gantry crane, however, is rare. This is the first such case in twenty years. With over 2,000 gantry cranes registered island-wide, it is pertinent that all crane users adhere to the safety measures required in crane operations. These are highlighted in Annex B.

7. Reminding industry players of their obligations to ensure safe use of cranes, Mr Silas Sng, the Ministry's OSH Inspectorate Director, said, “Under the Workplace Safety & Health Act, those involved in deploying cranes for use must take responsibility to ensure that the crane is used safely at all times. Measures to ensure crane safety are well established, with various Codes of Practice and guidelines readily available. MOM urges all parties to take all necessary measures to ensure the safe use of cranes and keep our workers safe. Those found to have neglected safety precautions will be taken to task by the Ministry.”

8. Mr Tan Wee Seng, Chairman of the National Crane Safety Taskforce, highlighted the importance of ensuring safe crane operations, "The death of one worker and injuries of three others in this recent crane collapse underscores the importance of safe crane operations. Preventing such incidents is a key goal of the Taskforce. In our earlier report, we have laid out several important items that industry must pay attention to. These include proper planning of any work involving cranes, providing proper training to personnel to ensure correct use of cranes and ensuring regular maintenance. The Taskforce will work closely with MOM, the WSH Council and all relevant industry stakeholders, such as crane suppliers and manufacturers, to prevent such incidents. In the meantime, we urge all industry players to immediately review all crane operations and the conditions of the cranes. The industry must play their part."