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Speech at the Construction Safety, Health and Security Campaign Opening Ceremony

Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, Construction House

Dr Ho Nyok Yong, President, Singapore Contractors Association

Limited Members of the Construction Industry Joint Committee

Distinguished speakers, guests and friends,

A very good morning to all of you.


  1. I am delighted to join you at the 28th Annual Construction Campaign. The strong turnout shows that industry-led efforts like today’s event will stand us in good stead as we continue to press on to advocate high Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) standards in the construction sector.

    WSH Performance of the construction sector
  2. Last year, when we met at this same event, we were concerned about the increasing number of fatalities in construction. This year, I am glad to note that the WSH performance of the construction sector in the first half of this year has shown some positive development. The number of fatalities has dropped from 15 in the first half of last year to 11 in the first half of this year. In the same time period, the number of permanent disablements also fell from 22 to 13.
  3. When we reviewed these incidents, falls from height remained the key cause of deaths and serious injuries, accounting for more than half of the incidents. At a recent seminar organised by SCAL, the National Work at Height Safety Taskforce has called for all construction and marine worksites to implement Fall Prevention Plans (FPP) by the end of the year. As the FPP will help companies better manage work at height activities in their worksites and reduce related risks, I strongly urge those who have yet to implement a FPP to do so as soon as possible.
  4. Besides Work at Height, another area of concern is the high number of dangerous occurrences, most of which involved the failure or collapse of cranes. In the first half of this year, while the number of crane-related fatalities had remained small, there were already 14 crane-related dangerous occurrences. This is slightly more than half of the 26 cases in 2010. While the 14 cases did not result in any injuries or deaths, these occurrences have the potential of causing great harm to workers and the public.
  5. Recognising the importance of crane safety, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the WSH Council had set up the National Crane Safety Taskforce in 2009. Since its set-up, the number of crane related fatalities had fallen from 10 in 2009 to 2 in 2010. In the first half of 2011, we have seen 2 fatalities so far. Coupled with the high number of crane-related dangerous occurrences, it is clear that more needs to be done, especially with the prevalence of cranes in many worksites islandwide.

    Progress made in Taskforce initiatives since July 2010
  6. Last year, I announced several key initiatives by the WSHC-led Crane Safety Taskforce. This year, it is timely that I share with you the good progress made since then. First, 90% of the Approved Crane Contractors (ACCs) have attained at least bizSAFE level 3, a requirement before they can renew their certification. The ACCs' capability to carry out safe crane erection and dismantling has also been enhanced with the new Crane Erector Course developed by the WSH Council. The first run of the course will take place next week.
  7. Second, since October last year, more than 1,100 crane operators have attended the "Workshop to Enhance the Safety of Crane Operators (WESCO)". Attending the WESCO is a mandatory requirement for crane operators before their licenses can be renewed. Of these 1,100 crane operators, 70% of them have also passed an assessment. The good pass rate shows that most of our crane operators are able to manage cranes well. The remaining operators had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and re-take the assessment, allowing us the chance to raise their capabilities to perform their jobs safely.
  8. Third, we also rolled out new training courses targeting lifting supervisors, riggers and signalmen. The new course for lifting supervisors was launched in August 2010 while the enhanced course for riggers and signalmen were launched in May 2011. To date, close to 1,590 supervisors have attended the Lifting Supervisors Safety Course.
  9. Concurrent with these outreach and capability building efforts, my Ministry also stepped up on enforcement activities on crane operations. The most recent was "Operation Sandpiper", carried out between May to June this year. MOM officers checked over 50 sites on the safety of lifting operations during piling work. The proper use and movement of cranes during the piling stage is important as the ground conditions may change and the contractor must be able to ensure the safety of crane movements and activities in such a work environment. While the sites did not receive stop work orders, some 80 violations were found and $30,000 in compound fines issued. Top contraventions identified during "Operation Sandpiper" included improper rigging methods, faulty safety devices or lifting gear and poor maintenance of the crane or lifting machines. The findings show that more can be done by the industry to improve the safety of crane operations at our worksites.

    New Initiatives to Improve Crane Safety
  10. Among the new initiatives to improve crane safety is the enhancement of the regulatory framework governing crane operations that MOM has been working closely with the industry on. After extensive industry consultation, the WSH (Operation of Cranes) Regulations will take effect on 1 September 2011. This new set of regulations will replace the existing Factories (Operation of Cranes) Regulations with enhancements to the planning and responsibility for lifting works.
  11. The new Regulations clearly stipulates the requirement for a comprehensive lifting plan to be developed and implemented before a lifting operation can be carried out. This builds on the earlier requirement of lifting procedures. The lifting plan takes into account details such as the dimensions of the load, the intended load radius of the lifting equipment, how the lifting team communicates, physical and environmental considerations such as ground conditions and obstacles. A "Responsible Person" will also be required to establish and implement this lifting plan before commencement of any lifting works.
  12. Lifting plans are not completely new to the industry. The construction sector, for example, has already been using lifting plans it as part of the Permit-to-work system. By making it a specific requirement in the regulations, we aim to ensure that industry standards are consistent across the board and that adequate planning is done by all parties before a lifting activity is carried out.
  13. We are also issuing a new Code of Practice (CP) for Safe Lifting Operations at Workplaces today. This Code of Practice has been developed by the WSH Council and the Taskforce, and will help industry stakeholders formulate and implement lifting plans. Industry players can follow the guidance from the CP as well as the checklists provided. A Crane Safety Symposium will be held on 5 August to provide case studies as well as tips on the implementation of lifting plans and management of lifting teams. Further assistance will also be provided in a "Safe Lifting Operations Kit" that will guide all members of the lifting team – the lifting supervisor, the rigger, the signalman and the crane operator. The courses that I have mentioned earlier for the lifting team will focus on helping the lifting team formulate a comprehensive lifting plan.
  14. In the next 6 months, the WSHC and Taskforce will work on helping the industry put lifting plans in place. The Safety Compliance Assistance Visits (SCAV), which has been successful in promoting Work at Height safety, will be similarly deployed to help the industry develop and implement lifting plans on-site. By the end of 2011, MOM hopes to see all industry players adopt the lifting plan and we will carry out another enforcement exercise to check on this.

  15. As I have highlighted today, improving crane and lifting safety requires the commitment of the entire lifting team, the contractors and engineers involved. Similarly, construction safety cannot be achieved without the support of all stakeholders in the value chain, including the various associations present today. The construction WSH landscape has evolved over the years and the outcomes have been positive. But, we need to do better, especially since safety and health is very much an integral part of businesses and operations, particularly for the construction sector. In line with the campaign's theme for this year "A Safe Workplace for Higher Productivity", we need your commitment to ensure that our workplaces are safe and productive for all our workers. Let us all move together towards this goal. Thank you.

Factsheet on Enhancements under the new WSH (Operation of Cranes) Regulations (revised)

Factsheet on Crane Safety Taskforce initiatives (revised)

Factsheet on Operation Sandpiper (revised)