Take firms' worksite safety measures into consideration when awarding contracts

I read with sadness that another worker has died in a fall at a construction site ("Worker dies in fall at Sembawang construction site"; Dec 10).

There has been a lot of discussion about workplace safety, especially after a fatal accident has occurred.

Whenever there is a workplace accident, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and other relevant authorities will investigate.

Often, more rules will be implemented, yet in recent years, there has been no reduction in the number of fatal accidents annually.

Instead of setting more rules, perhaps the tender process for construction and engineering work should be improved.

The company awarded a contract has a major part to play in eliminating worksite accidents.

In the present tender system, a company usually has to put in a bid at a low price in order to get the contract.

It has to comply with the many safety rules imposed by the authorities, and at the same time, rush to complete the contract on a tight schedule.

Often, more rules will be implemented, yet there has been no reduction in the number of fatal accidents annually in recent years. Instead of setting more rules, perhaps the tender process for construction and engineering work should be improved.

The situation is like burning a candle at both ends.

Safety rules should be implementable and strictly enforced. They should not be merely documents submitted and filed.

Contract bidding should be in two parts, one for the actual contract and another for detailed safety measures to be implemented.

The awarding of contracts should be based on the two separate documents that are submitted.

Quality control on both contract and safety compliance must be strictly enforced by the companies and the regulating bodies.

The above steps, taken on top of workers' safety education, will surely help reduce or even eliminate the occurrence of fatal accidents in worksites.

Henry Ong Kok Seong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2016, with the headline 'Take firms' worksite safety measures into consideration when awarding contracts'. Print Edition | Subscribe