Singapore Contractors Association calls for immediate safety timeout after four worksite-related deaths

The call comes after the fourth reported death in a worksite-related incident since start of the year on March 9, 2019.
The call comes after the fourth reported death in a worksite-related incident since start of the year on March 9, 2019.PHOTO: ST READER

SINGAPORE - The Singapore Contractors Association (SCA) has brought forward its quarterly safety timeout, as it expressed "grave concern" over the recent spate of workplace fatalities at construction sites, it said in a statement on Monday (March 11).

The call comes after the fourth reported death in a worksite-related incident since the start of 2019 on Saturday.

In that incident, a 36-year-old foreign worker was killed after he was struck by a sheet pile at a Sengkang construction site. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the police are investigating the incident.

The timeout, which is optional and originally scheduled for next month, requests construction firms to stop work and review how they carry out particular activities. It is often completed in a few hours or less.

The association, which has more than 2,800 members, urged companies to also take the opportunity to review all aspects of safety and risk assessment at all their worksites.

SCA president Kenneth Loo said the association is deeply concerned about the rise in the number of construction incidents and fatalities over the past two months, adding that "our thoughts and prayers go to those affected and their families".

"As an industry, we need to take a holistic and responsible approach to ensure workplace safety. This is a shared responsibility where management, supervisors and workers at all levels take ownership and embrace the same mindset towards sustaining a strong safety culture.


"We call on all construction firms to conduct a safety timeout as soon as possible to reinforce this shared responsibility, and for everyone to remain vigilant in safeguarding workplace safety at all times," he said.

A spokesman told The Straits Times that, on average, 60 companies respond to the quarterly timeout, reviewing the work processes at between 300 and 600 sites.

Some firms also carry out their own reviews regularly, and do not report these findings to the association.

The death on Saturday came just over two weeks after another Indian construction worker died at a worksite of the Changi East project, which includes Changi Airport Terminal 5.

On Feb 22, the 27-year-old man was on the left of a tipper truck at a T-junction when the vehicle made a left turn and hit him. MOM said it was the first fatal accident at the worksite. Police later arrested a 32-year-old man for causing death by negligent act.

On Jan 22, a 27-year-old construction worker fell to his death when the rope he was attached to snapped after part of it became entangled with the side mirror of a passing bus.

The worker, who was also an Indian national, was painting the exterior of the Royal Plaza on Scotts hotel.

About a week earlier, on Jan 14, a 28-year-old Bangladeshi worker was killed after a Housing Board lift that was undergoing upgrading seemingly dropped from the fifth to the first floor. The worker was part of a team carrying out lift replacement works at Block 805 in Chai Chee Road, MOM said.