Prevent lapses in construction processes for support structures: Tan Chuan-Jin

Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin at the accident site in Sentosa, where one worker died and another 10 were injured, on Thursday, Jan 30. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin at the accident site in Sentosa, where one worker died and another 10 were injured, on Thursday, Jan 30. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) and the construction industry must come together to review and prevent lapses in the building process for support structures, said Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin.

He was speaking after a visit on Thursday to a worksite near Palawan Beach on Sentosa, where the collapse of a supporting formwork structure had left 10 injured and one dead on Wednesday.

"It's not the first time that (construction companies) are constructing formworks... so why did this happen?" Mr Tan told reporters. "Accidents normally happen when there are lapses."

Wednesday's incident was the sixth construction site accident reported this month, with three in the past week. Of these, five were related to formwork structures.

While the ministry is still investigating the cases, he said he has questions about how the building of support structures is carried out. "Were (the structures) designed correctly, were the right people trained? Was this done according to (industry) specification, and then checked off (by another professional)? Was the installation process done correctly?"

All work at the site, which is for a three-storey family entertainment centre, has been halted due to "security lapses," said Mr Tan.

Mr Tan wrote in a blog post on Wednesday that MOM would review two existing workplace safety programmes. "This is just to enhance the whole system, and make sure we tighten sensitivity to safety," he said on Thursday. "We do not want to overload the system."

He also gave his condolences to the family of the 36-year-old Chinese national who died in the accident. His family members are in the process of getting their visas to come here to collect his body.

While MOM will "press for heavy deterrence if we find that certain groups are responsible (for the accidents)", Mr Tan said he is not considering harsh punishments right now. "If you have to step up on punishments and fines in order for people to follow instructions, then it's a sad state of affairs," he said.