Job site safety is a concern in many sectors of society. But in construction and building, it’s of utmost importance. Construction in Singapore is no different.
In fact, companies will quickly pay if they ignore safety on the job site. As is the case with a company two years ago that found themselves in hot water over an accident.
When looking to make your company safer and follow codes and restrictions, you should make sure you are checking yourself against other companies. We’re all in this business together.
Business doesn’t have to be war. And doing everything on your own could land your company in a world of trouble.
Joining communities like Construction Singapore will help you stay up to date and avoid what recently happened to GS Engineering and Construction Corp.
1. Safety For Construction Singapore: The Event
Once the details arrived from the scene on January 22, 2014, it was no mystery what happened at the construction site on Ayer Rajah Avenue.
GS Engineering and Construction Corp were building two projects on site. And when deadlines are tight and you’re managing two projects at once, it’s always tempting to cut corners on the job site.
This is exactly what happened that fateful day when the lives of two construction workers were snuffed out in an instant.
The foreman needed an air compressor on level 8. He had an idea: in the absence of typical elevators at the job site, loading platforms were suspended on the edge of level 7.
Now, working platforms are common at building construction Singapore sites and site all over the world. And they are designed to hold human beings and a moderate amount of equipment.
But when you overload a platform or load it incorrectly, they are bound to tip and eject their occupants.
This is what happened in January two years ago. A foreman and a few workers thought it was a good idea to load a heavy air compressor into a loading platform suspended some seventy feet above the ground.
While loading the compressor onto the platform, those on the building side lost control of the compressor. The compressor rolled too quickly onto the platform tipping it out and away from the building.
Unfortunately, two individuals were on the windward side of the platform and in the way of the compressor. They fell seventy feet or so and died on the construction Singapore site.
Paramedics arrived too late to resuscitate the victims and it was a sad day for all involved.
2. The Investigation
As is common with construction Singapore accidents, the Ministry of Manpower’s Occupational Safety and Health Division investigated the accident. The investigation involved a coroner who found that the accident could have been avoided.
The company was then charged under the Workplace Safety And Health Act for construction Singapore, a first for the government of Singapore.
The act requires responsibility from stakeholders in a project to act responsibly and take measure for safety.
The three guiding principles of the act are: Reduce risk, encourage adoption of greater ownership on safety and health, and impose higher penalties for poor safety management.
Now, initially, the company was fined S$150,000. But under the third guiding principle of the WSHA, this was too little. So the Ministry of Manpower appealed to the court to increase the fine.
Prosecutors looked to double the fine to S$300,000, but Judicial Commissioner See Kee Oon felt this was too stern. He increased the fine to S$250,000 instead saying that the S$150,000 was too low of a deterrent to keep workers safe.
The two workers who died on the site were from Bangladesh and their names were Rajib Md Abdul Hannan (age 24) and Ratan Roy Abinash Roy (age 28).
According to witnesses, the two men voiced concerns about their own safety while loading the 800 Kg compressor, but their concerns were ignored.
Ignoring workers concerns and instincts may be one of the worst ways a construction foreman could damage and jeopardize his own workplace safety.
3. Another Example
Before you being to say that this accident is a construction Singapore anomaly, look no farther than another event that happened this year in Singapore.
In April of 2016, two companies were convicted of falsifying information to Ministry of Manpower.
What were they hiding? Poor and unsafe working conditions.
3S Solid Surface Ltd and Sing Solid Surface Pte Ltd both illegally allowed foreign workers to reside in a factory rather than providing worker dormitories. They were charged with over thirty counts of improper accommodations.
The companies housed over 41 workers in a factory that had no proper escape route. If a fire had happened in that factory, all of the foreign workers could have died.
The plywood flooring of the factory was highly unstable and could have collapsed at any moment. And beyond safety concerns, the government cited health concerns as well.
The workers only shared two toilets between them all. This was highly inadequate and posed a health risk for all involved.
Dusty and dingy, the living conditions were worse than some prisoners of war experience during harsh wartime.
Making sure you are following all regulations is of utmost importance in construction Singapore.
The consequences were dire for these two companies. They were disbarred from being able to hire foreign workers. They were not able then to renew the passes for their current foreign workers. And they were additionally fined a total of S$180,000 for their offenses.
The moral of the story here is that health and safety are highly important when hiring and housing employees. It’s also important when training workers, foremen, and managers.
On a construction Singapore site you should have a comprehensive plan that factors in every aspect of the job site. From heavy equipment to the most minute detail.
Taking the extra time to ensure the health and safety of your workers will benefit all involved in your project. It will set precedent for future projects and outside companies.
Partners and collaborators will notice your attention to detail and word will spread.
What are some ways you could improve your company’s workplace safety protocols? Drop us a line and let us know.