Developers must get involved in safety meetings too

I am sceptical as to whether getting contractors, subcontractors, consultants and safety officers to attend a mandatory safety coordination meeting every day will reduce the number of accidents at construction sites (Worksites may have to hold mandatory safety meetings daily; July 18).

In large-scale projects, where there are a multitude of activities on site, the time taken for the safety coordination meeting is going to be enormous and thus, the commencement of work will be pushed back.

Given the very strict working hours and tight time frame to complete the work, the daily safety coordination meeting is likely to become a perfunctory paper exercise.

Furthermore, why are developers excluded from this plan?

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Safety is everyone's responsibility, and it must start at the very top.

If the Manpower Ministry is serious about reducing the number of accidents at worksites, the first thing it ought to do is separate the function of safety from the stakeholders.

Currently, Workplace Safety and Health officers are usually employees of the main contractor or from a consultancy firm hired by the main contractor.

If the main contractor does not give the officer full support, there is only so much that he would be able to do.

Yes, contractors face severe penalties, should accidents occur. But this is not translating into concrete figures of fewer worksite accidents.

On the contrary, the accident rate is increasing.

The MOM should also look into mandating that all developers set aside a fixed sum in the contract for safety measures.

This sum is to be disbursed to the contractors together with their monthly progress claims if they maintain an accident-free record for that month.

This would be an added incentive for them.

Rajasegaran Ramasamy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'Developers must get involved in safety meetings too'. Print Edition | Subscribe