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Speech at Crane Symposium 2016

Mr Sam Tan, Minister of State for Manpower, Building and Construction Authority Academy

Mr Mohamed Abdul Akbar
Chairman of the National Crane Safety Taskforce

Distinguished guests,

Industry partners,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon,

  1. I am happy to join you at this annual Crane Safety Symposium.  This is the 2nd time I am attending the Symposium since coming to MOM about a year ago.   This symposium is an important annual event jointly organised by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the WSH Council’s National Crane Safety Taskforce. 
  2. I am heartened to see more than 400 participants today.  It shows that you take a serious view of workplace safety and health, and you want to improve the safety and health of your workers.

    WSH Performance in the Crane Industry
  3. How does the crane industry fare in safety and health performance so far?   Let me share with you some statistics.   Last year, we had 22 crane-related Dangerous Occurrences (DOs) and 11 workers were injured as a result. The situation has changed. In the first nine months of this year, we have recorded 17 such occurrences which resulted in 8 injuries and 1 fatality. 
  4. What are the causes of these DOs? Investigations revealed that poor maintenance of cranes and unsafe practices adopted in the lifting operations were the two main causes. 
  5. We have examined the current situation carefully with our industry partners in the National Crane Safety Taskforce.  We have identified 3 priority areas to tackle the DOs in crane operations. 

    Formation of Lorry Crane Working Group (LCWG)
  6. First, is to address the increasing number of DOs involving lorry cranes, as they accounted for 30% of all crane-related DOs.  Lorry cranes are widely used almost everywhere, whether on public roads or in close vicinity to residential areas.  While lorry cranes may seem to pose lower risk than bigger cranes, they in fact can cause significant damage to property and endanger lives.  
  7. Let me share an example.  Last year, a lorry crane toppled and crashed into a house while lifting a boom lift from the lorry bed. Investigations revealed that the outriggers of the lorry crane were not fully deployed.  You can see the impact of the accident from the screen here\.  Inadequate extension of outriggers was the number one cause for these Dos.  This reflects a lack of competency in crane operations among the operators and workers.  
  8. The National Crane Safety Taskforce has therefore decided to set up a workgroup to review and develop specific measures to improve the safe usage of Lorry Cranes.  The Lorry Crane workgroup, to be led by Mr Mohamed Abdul Akbar, Chairman of the National Crane Safety Taskforce, will look into lorry crane operator training and competency, as well as safe practices in the use of lorry cranes.  The review will be completed in 6 months. 

    Surge Protective Device (SPD) for Tower Cranes
  9. Second, is to address the potential fire risk in tower crane cabins.  Tower cranes are prone to lightning strikes because of their height.  In fact, a tower crane was struck by lightning on Christmas Eve last year, causing a short circuit in its distribution box.  This resulted in a fire in the crane cabin.  Fortunately, the crane operator managed to escape and made his way down to the ground safely.  You can see from the screen the impact of lightning strike on the tower crane.  While this might be an isolated incident, we must mitigate such risks as it can happen again.
  10. This risk is collaborated by feedback from tower crane suppliers.  They said that a significant number of tower cranes’ electrical circuits were damaged due to lightning strikes every year.  Each case could potentially result in a fire outbreak in the cabin, putting the lives of the crane operators in danger.  This risk can easily be prevented or mitigated with the installation of a Surge Protection Device.  The National Crane Taskforce will work with industry partners to promote this installation.  In fact, crane owners such as ST Marine and Ho Lee Machinery Pte Ltd have already committed to install the device.  I would like to encourage all crane owners to do the same as soon as possible, for the safety of your crane operators.

    Data Logger
  11. Third, is to accelerate the installation of data loggers in mobile cranes.  Last year, MOM announced that all mobile cranes must be fitted with a data logger by 1 August 2018.  To facilitate this, a Data Logger Fund by the WSH Council was also launched to provide 50% co-funding of the installation cost up to $5,000 per mobile crane.  However, take up of data loggers has been slower than expected.  A survey by MOM shows that more than 60% of mobile cranes in Singapore have yet to be fitted with data loggers. 
  12. Data loggers can help prevent accidents.  Companies such as Bok Seng Group have used the information collected from the data loggers to review crane operations on a regular basis to prevent overloading of their cranes.  The data loggers also alert crane operators to be more careful when operating mobile cranes by monitoring their actions.  If you have not installed data loggers in your mobile cranes, please tap onto the fund and act quickly. I think it is a worthwhile investment to spend some money to install the data loggers for the protection and safety of workers. 

  13. Workplace safety and health is a collective responsibility of all the stakeholders.  We need everyone to work together to make our workplaces safer and healthier.  We will continue to roll out grants and schemes to support the industry to improve their WSH standards. As a regulator, we will also continue with our enforcement actions and take errant operators, workers and employers to task if they fail to observe even the basic WSH precautions and measures.  And at the same time, we will help the industry raise WSH standards through initiatives such as the Data Logger Fund and encouraging the adoption of technology such as the Surge Protective Device.  But we need companies and workers to play their part too. 
  14. For companies, this means ensuring that your equipment are well-maintained and your crane operators are well-trained. You can tap on resources such as the WSH Council’s Guide on safe use of overhead travelling cranes, gantry cranes, jib cranes and hoists found in your symposium bags. 
  15. For workers, you can always do your personal risk assessment before operating the crane - Look out for possible dangers, Think how you should operate the crane safely before you actually Do the operation.  It is a very simple three-step measure. Always start off with a pre-operational check to ensure the crane is in good working condition before you do the lifting operation.  Four workshops on how to carry out pre-operational checks for cranes will be conducted later in the afternoon.  I hope that you will learn much from these workshops. 
  16. In conclusion, I would like to ask every one of us here to do our best to safeguard the safety and health of all our workers.  Together, we can prevent all injuries so that everyone can go home safe and healthy at the end of the work day.  Thank you and have a fruitful day ahead.