Speech at Crane Safety Symposium 2012
Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, BCA Academy Function Hall
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Good afternoon. I am pleased to join you at the Crane Safety Symposium 2012. This event aims to highlight emerging issues and initiatives related to crane safety so that we may all work towards ensuring zero crane accidents.
Crane-Related WSH Performance
- In today’s Singapore, hundreds of crane lifting activities are carried out daily in numerous workplaces across the island. We need to have in place proper systems to ensure that all these crane activities are safe and also provide adequate training for our workers involved. Dealing with large, complex machines like cranes also means that we cannot afford even the smallest safety lapse, as crane-related accidents can be potentially catastrophic.
- As at the end of August this year, we have seen four workplace crane-related fatalities, up from three in the same period last year. To date, 14 crane-related dangerous occurrences have happened, similar to last year. Many, if not all, of these crane accidents arose from insufficient planning, failure to follow established procedures and unsafe acts. Stakeholders clearly need to do better in managing lifting activities.
- To understand how crane operations are being managed on the ground since the enactment of the Workplace Safety and Health (Operation of Cranes) Regulations in September last year, MOM carried out Operation Hornbill between June and August this year. We have released our key findings today. Operation Hornbill uncovered 67 contraventions of the Regulations, with 31 companies issued fines of between $200 and $6,200 each. A comprehensive lifting plan1, which is a requirement since September 2011, is a key component of safe crane operations but it was found that some companies have not established such a plan. For those who have done so, they may not have implemented it well either. Besides ensuring that a plan is in place, it is also critical that each and every lifting team member carry out the work according to the lifting plan.
- In particular, the crane operator plays a critical role as he is in direct control of the crane’s movements. The operator must be well-trained and well-equipped to conduct the lift safely, within the limits of the crane’s capabilities and be able to read the signals if the lift is not going well and take the appropriate action.
Raising Crane Operators Competency
- Both MOM and the Workplace Safety and Health Council’s National Crane Safety Taskforce have been pushing on with efforts to raise the competencies of crane operators as well as to motivate them towards positive safe work behaviour. Let me share with you the progress of some of these efforts.
Enhancing the Crane Operator Course
- First, we aim to enhance the effectiveness of the Crane Operator Course that all crane operators must pass before they are allowed to work onsite. The Taskforce has worked with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Academy to improve the existing courses for tower, mobile and crawler crane operators by using crane simulators as part of the practical sessions. The simulators allow trainees to experience how to operate the various types of cranes realistically in different sites, and under severe site conditions such as heavy rain and uneven ground.
- The enhanced training will supplement practical training on actual cranes and help trainees learn how to manage different situations. A BCA Academy speaker will be sharing more details about the enhanced course later, and I encourage all to visit the crane simulator centre during break-time.
Updates on Lorry Crane Operator Training
- In December last year, MOM announced that all lorry crane operators will have to be certified under a new lorry crane operator course by September 20132.
- As at end of August 2012, 1,439 workers have undergone the lorry crane operator course. This is about 41% of the total population of crane operators here. I strongly urge all lorry crane owners and suppliers to send your lorry crane operators for training early so as to avoid any last-minute rush before the regulation takes effect in September 2013.
Pictorial Guides for Crane Operators
- Besides enhanced training, the WSH Council and MOM have also developed two safety handbooks – one for general cranes and one for lorry cranes. The two pictorial handbooks clearly show important dos and don’ts while operating cranes and include a daily pre-operation checklist. These handbooks will be sent to crane operators through crane owners and suppliers. You can also pick them up today.
Crane Data Logger Systems
- Other than educating and training crane operators, we also hope to leverage on technology to better monitor safety conditions on the ground. The third area that the Council and MOM have been working on is a study on whether it is feasible to fit Data Logger systems into cranes used in Singapore. Akin to the black box in an aeroplane, the Data Logger is a recording device that monitors and records key operational parameters and critical events performed on the cranes.
- Following the study, we have found that the Data Logger offers many benefits. First, it can better monitor the performance of the crane operators by recording critical operational data of the crane. In doing so, it can help to shape the behaviour of crane operators by deterring them from committing unsafe acts, such as overloading cranes or bypassing safety devices. In addition, the information recorded and stored in the Data Loggers will also help crane stakeholders better plan their lifting operations to optimise the safe use of the cranes on site.
- Given these benefits and the need to ensure that crane operators follow safe work procedures on the ground, MOM and the WSH Council have been consulting the industry on how we can leverage on Data Loggers to further raise crane safety standards. Crane stakeholders have suggested that a possible first step may be to equip new mobile cranes with data loggers, while existing mobile cranes can be strongly encouraged to also install data loggers as well. Mobile cranes will benefit most from the constant monitoring of their operations as their frequent movements pose challenges to developing effective lifting plans and the safe conduct of lifting activities. These cranes have also been involved in more accidents.
- We would like to take this opportunity to highlight this proposal to the crane community and seek further feedback from industry players3. MOM aims to announce the eventual plan early next year following the industry’s feedback and views.
- Over the last few years, under the leadership of the WSH Council-led Crane Safety Taskforce, the crane industry has seen much progress in terms of enhancing competencies, safety standards and commitment. But, I believe we can and must do even better if we want all our workers who work daily with cranes to be safe at all times. I urge all crane industry stakeholders to work more closely together, towards the vision of zero crane accidents. Thank you.
1From Sept 2011, the WSH (Operation of Cranes) Regulations stipulates the requirement for a comprehensive lifting plan to be developed and implemented before a lifting operation can be carried out. The lifting plan takes into account details like dimensions of the load, intended load radius of crane, how lifting team communicates, physical and environmental considerations like ground conditions and obstacles. A “Responsible Person” will also be required to establish and implement this lifting plan before commencement of any lifting works.
2This was a new requirement under the WSH (Operations of Cranes) Regulations which took effect in September 2011.
3Industry players are welcome to email their feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.