MOM Launches Construction Safety Enforcement Blitz
- “One dead, 10 hurt in scaffolding collapse at Sentosa.” “Worker hit by prefab unit falls to death.” “Worker dies after falling four storeys from scaffolding which collapsed.” “Two workers fall to death at construction site.”
- January 2014 was a month marred by fatal construction accidents. In that month alone, a total of eight workers lost their lives at worksites. Investigations into the accidents showed that contractors were rushing construction work and disregarding key Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) procedures in order to meet deadlines before the Chinese New Year holidays.
- So far this year, one worker has died in a construction-related accident after being crushed by a formwork structure which toppled (refer to Annex for details). The accident is a grim reminder of the consequences of WSH lapses in the construction industry.
- Minister for Manpower, Mr Tan Chuan-Jin said, “MOM’s investigations into past accidents revealed that when some contractors were unable to keep up with project timelines, they ended up cutting corners in the area that matters the most – workplace safety and health. This is unacceptable. Every worker is entitled to a safe workplace, and every employer and occupier is obliged to provide that. I call on all stakeholders to play their part to prevent accidents and ill health at work. Prevention is key as no amount of investigations or penalties will bring a deceased worker back to life.”
- To ensure contractors maintain their focus on WSH ahead of the festive period, MOM has launched an enforcement operation to weed out poor WSH practices at construction sites. The operation, codenamed Operation Sunbird, will involve inspections at more than 200 worksites island-wide over a three-week period ending in early February 2015.
- MOM’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, Mr Chan Yew Kwong added, “The safety and health of their workers should be the top-most priority of employers and occupiers. Errant contractors and employers with egregious WSH contraventions will not only face a thorough investigation and harsh penalties, but corrective actions as well including intensified monitoring, inspections and training requirements.”
- The worksite inspections under Operation Sunbird are in addition to the regular inspections that MOM conducts throughout the year. Inspections under Operation Sunbird will cover a range of work areas, including formwork, work-at-heights and lifting operations, among others.
- MOM urges employers, contractors and occupiers to take all reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of workers, including proper risk assessments, proper WSH training and sufficient rest periods. Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, companies that fail to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of their workers can be fined up to $500,000 for a first offence.
Fatal accident at Shimizu Corporation’s workplace on 23 Jan 2015
Police informed the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 23 Jan 2015 about an accident that took place at Shimizu Corporation’s workplace along Alexandra Terrace on the same day. Shimizu Corporation was the occupier of the site and had been engaged by Mapletree Business City Pte Ltd, the developer.
Officers from MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate commenced investigations immediately. Preliminary findings indicate that four workers were assembling two formwork panels, working in between them, when one of the panels toppled inwards. One worker was struck by the panel, while three others escaped unhurt. The stricken worker, a Bangladeshi national, was conveyed to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on the same day.
The occupier has been instructed to stop all assembly of formwork panels. Investigations are ongoing.