Two firms fined and ordered to stop construction work after safety breaches

An elevated work area seen without barricades, and an A-frame ladder being used improperly. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

SINGAPORE - Two companies were fined and issued stop-work orders after unsafe working conditions were found at their worksites, as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) ramps up enforcement efforts amid a spike in workplace fatalities.

In a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 4) about the unsafe practices by the errant companies in recent inspections, MOM added that CAD Associates was fined $21,000 and KHC Development, $20,000.

To lift the stop-work orders, said MOM, they must:

• rectify all unsafe work conditions;

• engage third-party auditors to assess their workplace safety and health management systems;

• develop action plans based on the audit findings; and

• install closed-circuit television cameras at places where high-risk activities are being carried out.

Mr Sebastian Tan, director of MOM's occupational safety and health inspectorate, said: "The site conditions at these two worksites are appalling and unacceptable.

"Our workers must never be subject to such imminent dangers where they risk falling from height or have materials collapsing on them.

"As construction activities pick up, contractors must step up their efforts to keep our worksites safe for our workers."

A series of seven photos depicting the unsafe practices found at the worksites were attached to the Facebook post.

One photo, which MOM said was taken at KHC Development’s worksite, shows a worker erecting formwork, or temporary moulds used for casting concrete structures, at height without any harness.

Fall prevention measures, such as effective barricades or proper work platforms, were absent, said MOM.

A man is seen erecting formwork at a height, seemingly without any harnesses, barricades or platforms to work on. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

"During our inspections, the most common workplace safety contravention was working at height without effective and adequate fall prevention in place."

It added: "Proper supervision and fall prevention measures must be implemented according to the fall prevention plan before any work-at-height activity is to be done in the workplace."

Another photo shows an elevated work area at CAD Associates’ worksite without barricades installed. An A-frame ladder was also incorrectly used to provide workers access to the area.

Said MOM: "A secured step ladder or monkey ladder with proper handholds should be used for access onto the work area instead."

Yet another photo of the same worksite shows a scaffold, seemingly at an incomplete terraced house, erected by untrained workers.

The scaffold was placed in an unsafe manner on the roof, with unsecured access to the scaffold, said MOM.

Scaffolding put up by untrained workers in an unsafe manner. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

The ministry said scaffolds must be erected by trained workers, and that an approved scaffold contractor must be engaged for scaffolds more than 4m in height.

Mr Desmond Teoh, project director at CAD Associates, told The Straits Times that work had stopped at the worksite, a 3½-storey landed property, since early July.

“We are doing all the necessary rectifications and cooperating with MOM to meet their requirements, but the building will take an extra half-year to be completed,” he said, noting that the firm’s other projects have not been affected.

Mr Teoh said that though the workers hired directly by the company are aware of safety requirements and have at least five years’ experience, he recognised that more supervision is needed to ensure corners are not cut.

“After the incident, we hired a full-time safety supervisor to be at the site the whole day,” he said.

The firm has also engaged a professional safety auditor and a workplace safety and health officer to improve safety at the site.

“I think our business has definitely been affected, but we have to communicate with our clients that we are trying to improve. There is no point for us to hide anything.”

KHC Development declined to comment when contacted.

Singapore recorded its 31st workplace fatality this year on July 20, sparking a discussion in Parliament on Monday after Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong filed an adjournment motion on the worrying trend.

To report unsafe work practices, the public is advised to use this feedback form or call 6438-5122.

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