PIE work site collapse: Safety is everyone's responsibility, says …

SINGAPORE – The chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council has made his first public remarks on the July 14 worksite accident along the Pan Island Expressway, which claimed one life and injured 10 others.

“While investigation is underway and we do not wish to speculate on the root cause, the accident clearly shows that safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Mr Heng Chiang Gnee at a roundtable for construction-related associations on Friday (July 21).

He added that every person in the construction industry – from designers to contractors, project managers and safety officers – has a role to play.

“All of these stakeholders must work together to ensure workers’ safety and health, and promote and inculcate safe practices.”

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Eight construction-related associations – including groups of real estate developers, contractors, engineers and architects – were present at Friday’s roundtable.

They discussed issues such as Design for Safety regulations, which reduce safety and health risks through good design, as well as the importance of all worksites having formal Project Safety Coordination Committees.

They also agreed on greater partnership to improve construction safety and reaffirmed their commitment to reduce the construction fatality rate to less than 1.8 per 100,000 workers by next year (2018).

The discussion focused on six key areas spanning the life cycle of a construction project: Leadership, procurement, reducing safety and health risks through good design (also known as Design for Safety or DfS), training, culture and practices.

More than 20 training seminars on Design for Safety have been conducted for nearly 3,500 people in the industry.

The Ministry of Manpower has said it will  mandate the formation of Project Safety Coordination Committees at all construction sites, which are supposed to meet daily to discuss safety issues.

The  current industry practice is for contractors to appoint a coordinator to attend to such matters.  

A workgroup led by the Society of Project Managers Singapore will be working with the Manpower Ministry and WSH Council to provide feedback on the amendment of WSH (Construction) regulations.

It will also help steer the industry’s efforts to adopt such safety committees, and plans to publish a guide to help firms conduct effective meetings to plan, coordinate and review all hazardous works at sites.

In the first half of last year, there were 17 fatalities in the construction sector.

The second half of last year saw an improvement with fatalities in the construction sector declining by 59 per cent.

The sector ended 2016 with 24 fatalities at a fatality rate of 4.9, the lowest since 2007, said the WSH Council.

There have been four fatalities in the construction sector this year as of July 20, it added. 

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said that he was pleased to see industry leaders collaborating and discussing their plans.

He said: “Through strong leadership and close partnership, we can look forward to safer workplaces and ensure our workers can go home safely to their families.

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