The Ministry of Manpower said it will step up inspections of worksites islandwide over a two-week period from Jan 20, following a recent spate of serious accidents involving formwork structures which collapsed.
In the last week alone, two such accidents took place, but no workers were seriously injured. Preliminary findings showed that the formwork structures gave way during the concrete casting process, indicating that the structures were unable to support the load imposed on them during the casting process, said the ministry in a statement issued on Saturday.
In the first case which took place on Jan 10 at Lian Soon Construction Pte Ltd's worksite along Bishan Street 13, a group of workers were carrying out concreting work for the second floor's slab of an indoor sports hall under construction when the support structure became unstable. Before the structure gave way, the group of workers left but one of them lost his footing and suffered minor injures.
A day later, a second accident occurred at SH Design & Build Pte Ltd's worksite along Yishun Industrial Street 1. Preliminary findings showed that a group of workers were carrying out concreting work for the second floor's slab of a light industrial building under construction when the support structure started to sink and later gave way. The workers escaped in time and none were injured.
The ministry said the stepped-up inspections will target formwork practices at construction worksites, such as unsafe design and improper erection of formwork structures, and improper supervision and inspection of these structures. The enforcement effort will be in addition to the ministry's regular checks on formwork structures as part of its construction safety inspections.
Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Manpower and Education), was quoted as saying in the ministry's statement: "We were fortunate that there were no serious injuries in the two accidents that occurred over the past week. But contractors and professional engineers must give attention to safety practices involving formwork structures.
"Manpower Ministry officers will be stepping up their inspections of worksites. We will take errant occupiers of worksites and employers to task."
The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council has also reminded the industry to play their part and enforce good formwork practices. Mr Jackson Yap, Chairman, WSH Council (Construction and Landscape) Committee, said: "Formwork is a high-risk activity requiring proper design and erection of structures, as well as stringent checks and tight supervision of the work procedures.
"While MOM can and does carry out inspections and enforcement, contractors and industry professionals independently must take proactive steps of their own and adopt good practices involving formwork structures."