Views

Your views: Main contractor should be held liable for safety lapses

A development project is usually awarded to a main contractor, who will in turn select sub-contractors.

The main contractor should be held responsible for any safety lapses because the contract is between the main contractor and the project owner.

The latter, along with its consultants and architects, have to clearly state the work and safety criteria in their tender documents.

The main contractor should be required to submit the names of the sub-contractors so that they can be assessed according to their safety management system, safety records, organisation and training, before being approved.

Problems arise when the main contractor enters a low tender for the job and squeezes its sub-contractors to meet the project budget.

Sub-contractors want to be safe at work, but safety is compromised by time and money pressures.

Hence, it is is essential that the project owner makes sure the tender price is not ridiculously low.

The Ministry of Manpower should provide free training for sub-contractors when it comes to filling out paperwork, such as safe work method statements.

The main contractors should facilitate inter-trade site meetings with action plans and follow-ups to clarify what they need in order to work safely.

It is also essential to pressure toolmakers into designing safer tools that are more ergonomic and lightweight, and less noisy. They should also ensure they are not made with toxic chemicals.

Occupational and health safety courses are core elements - they should not be just add-on training.

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