Singapore

Manpower Minister: Collapse of viaduct section due to 'human lapse'

The collapse of a viaduct section at Upper Changi Road East two weeks ago that killed one worker and injured 10 others was due to a human lapse, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say said yesterday evening.

"One thing for sure is that this is a man-made incident that could have been avoided if everyone involved in this project had paid enough attention to the design and construction of the viaduct and the safety of workers," said Mr Lim at the annual Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) awards at Resorts World Sentosa.

Speaking to a crowd of 1,400 industry professionals, Mr Lim called the incident a "wake-up call" and warned against complacency and taking workplace safety and health for granted.

His comments offered a first glimpse into the outcome of the ongoing multi-agency investigation looking into the cause of the collapse which claimed the life of Chinese worker Chen Yinchuan.

Mr Lim said: "(Mr Chen) came to Singapore just three months ago to work as a construction worker. It was his first time working in Singapore.

"He wanted to earn and save more for his three-year-old son, but instead, he lost his life here."

The injured were three Chinese nationals, six Bangladeshis and one Indian national.

As of yesterday, six remain warded in hospital, with Chinese worker Gao Li Qin in critical condition, said Mr Lim.

Construction firm Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors and project consultants CPG Consultants had won the 2015 Land Transport Authority tender to build a viaduct linking the Tampines Expressway and the Pan-Island Expressway.

A preliminary investigation found that the reinforced concrete corbels - supporting structures that protrude from vertical columns and hold up the horizontal beams - had given way.

All work at the site has been ordered to stop.

An OKP spokesman said: "The company will continuously strive to adhere to safety requirements for all our projects. We are currently processing injury claims of the workers."

Added a CPG spokesman: "There are always lessons we can learn from each incident. However, investigations are still underway so we are unable to speculate on the outcomes.

"CPG Consultants has established systems of internal checks and reviews and we are re-evaluating them as part of our continuous improvement process."

Both OKP and CPG did not comment on the lapses.

The incident underscored the need to keep the "heat" on companies which do not meet safety standards, but also recognise those that invest in safe work place practices, said Mr Lim.

At the event, 172 WSH awards were handed out to companies and individuals to recognise good WSH management in their workplaces.

Lim Swee SayMINISTRY OF MANPOWER (MOM)Workplace Accident