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Construction firms urged to review safety protocols after 3 workplace fatalities in 2 days

Construction firms urged to review safety protocols after 3 workplace fatalities in 2 days

A worker welds iron bar reinforcements at a building construction site in Singapore on Oct 14, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Construction firms have been urged to conduct a "thorough" safety time-out exercise at their worksites, following three workplace fatalities in two days this week.

The call for a review of safety protocols was made on Friday (Nov 27) by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council and the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd (SCAL), who said they were "deeply concerned" over the recent spate of worksite fatalities.

The first of the three incidents happened on Monday.

A worker was raising the work platform of a boom lift when he was caught between the guardrail of the boom lift and a roofing structural member, according to a bulletin on the WSH Council's website.

The worker was extricated and pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

On Tuesday, a worker was checking formwork panels at a construction site when he lost his footing and fell about 0.8m to the ground. The worker was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.

The third incident involved a worker who was tasked to carry out arc welding on a pipe on Tuesday. 

To facilitate welding works, an inert gas was earlier introduced into the pipe. "The worker was subsequently found unconscious with his upper body inside the opening of an adjoining pipe," said the WSH accident notification.

He was pronounced dead in hospital.

The Ministry of Manpower is investigating the incidents.

READ: More fatal workplace accidents despite decline in work activities due to COVID-19 pandemic

A safety time-out involves reviewing construction activities and safety protocols.

This includes checking the stability of structures, as well as inspecting machinery, electrical installations and storage of materials and any hazardous chemicals.

"The recent accidents are strong reminders for us not to overlook the importance of WSH practices at worksites," chairman of the WSH Council John Ng said in a media release.

"After a period of hiatus due to COVID-19, workers may have lowered their safety consciousness and become less mindful of safe operating procedures," he added.

"Conducting a safety time-out exercise now will help industry stakeholders review all existing WSH provisions and address any potential lapses."

SCAL president Ng Yek Meng said that the association urges "all construction firms to take a step back to check and ensure that all the safety processes are in place". 

He noted that many supervisors and workers have just returned to worksites after the "circuit breaker", adding that "some complacency" may have set in or that safety processes might have been overlooked.

"Hence it is critical that employers carry out the safety time-outs to remind and reinforce the safety culture back into all their site personnel," he said.

Source: CNA/kv(gs)

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