Safety rules boosted after rise in crane accidents

A crane toppled in Bedok on Tuesday, one of two incidents that day. There were 17 crane-related accidents in the first eight months of this year.
A crane toppled in Bedok on Tuesday, one of two incidents that day. There were 17 crane-related accidents in the first eight months of this year.PHOTO: ST READER

The Manpower Ministry (MOM) is beefing up safety measures for crane operators due to a rise in the number of accidents.

It will lower the age for compulsory health checks from 60 to 50, and introduce a database to track accident rates, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said yesterday.

There were 17 crane-related accidents in the first eight months of this year, nearly double the number during the same period last year. On Tuesday, two cranes collapsed in separate incidents in Bedok and Marina Bay. No one was injured.

Speaking at an annual crane safety meet yesterday, Mr Tan said: "These are near misses which could have easily resulted in multiple fatalities."

He urged companies to install data loggers on cranes to track whether operators adhere to safety protocols. He also reminded them to apply for Workplace Safety and Health Council funding if needed.

Currently, there are about 6,400 crane operators in Singapore.

In addition to lowering the age for compulsory health checks from April 1 next year, MOM will require crane operators aged 70 and above to undergo additional medical tests. The checks will allow operators to tackle early signs of ill health, and minimise the risks posed to the people around them, said Mr Tan.

The new database, which the Singapore Crane Association will set up by June next year, will keep track of operators' experience and their safety record.

Yesterday, MOM also announced a new course to certify mini-crane operators. From January, operators no longer need to hold valid mobile or crawler crane operator licences, as they do now, before they are allowed to use mini cranes with a safe working load of five tonnes or less.

Mr Alan Peng, a senior heavy-lifting supervisor at logistics firm Bok Seng, welcomed these moves. "Hopefully, the management can find more people to operate mini cranes, now that they don't need to attend the old course, which was longer."

Aw Cheng Wei and Olivia Ho

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2015, with the headline 'Safety rules boosted after rise in crane accidents'. Print Edition | Subscribe