PIE viaduct collapse a painful reminder that safety must be taken seriously by all: LTA chairman

The collapsed section of the viaduct, seen on July 14, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The partial collapse of an uncompleted Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) viaduct in July is a "painful reminder" that accidents do happen and that safety must be taken seriously by all, said Land Transport Authority (LTA) chairman Alan Chan on Monday (Sept 4).

The incident emphasised that beyond practising worksite safety, it is imperative that safety is foremost in the minds of all involved, he added.

Workers must be well trained and empowered to report unsafe practices, and senior management must lead by example, put the right person in the job and walk the ground, he said.

Mr Chan, who was speaking at an LTA Annual Safety Award Convention held at the Singapore Polytechnic Convention Centre, said: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and the many injuries sustained."

On behalf of the LTA, he extended his condolences to the family of Chinese national Chen Yinchuan, who died in the fatal collapse, and wished the 10 workers who were injured a speedy recovery.

While a full investigation into the collapse of the viaduct being constructed near Upper Changi Road East will be completed by October, preliminary findings point to the design of supporting structures called corbels as the cause.

During a Parliament sitting last month, it was revealed that contractor Or Kim Peow (OKP) had the lowest quality score among qualified bidders.

MPs also raised questions about why OKP was awarded the contract despite having a fatal accident in 2015.

While he did not refer to the tender process of the PIE viaduct project in particular, Mr Chan said that "safety is becoming an important factor" in how LTA awards contracts.

"We do look deeply into the safety records of contractors," he added.

A total of 23 contractors were honoured on Monday for their excellent Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) practices at the 19th edition of the annual convention.

The theme of this year's event is "Safety is My Responsibility".

Mr Chan said: "On a more positive note, we need to recognise that many of our partners and contractors have demonstrated excellent worksite safety practices and they should be commended for the pursuit of safety excellence."

To strengthen workplace safety awareness, a handbook compiling exemplary safety and environmental site practices implemented by LTA's contractors was also launched on Monday.

During his speech, Mr Chan also touched on near-misses, and said the number of reported incidents has increased from 73 in 2015 to more than 3,000 in 2016.

Throughout the same period, this rise in near-miss reporting is accompanied by a 16 per cent reduction in Ministry of Manpower-reportable work-related accidents, he said.

"The results are encouraging, and (they reflect) that effective near-miss reporting will positively bring about a safer workplace," he noted.

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