Worksites to have daily safety meetings

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MOM to tighten workplace safety measures after viaduct collapse

Before any construction work can be done, all contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and safety officers will soon need to attend a mandatory safety meeting every day, The Straits Times understands.

All stakeholders of a construction site will be compelled to form a Project Safety Coordination Committee (PSCC), which will meet daily to discuss safety issues.

While the need for site coordination is already part of the law, the current industry practice is for contractors to appoint a coordinator to do it.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower said: "We will mandate the formation of a PSCC which aims to plan and coordinate all hazardous works at the worksite, in order to drive better on-site coordination, planning and communication.

"MOM is reviewing and will be able to share more at a later date."

Details of this move surfaced in the wake of the collapse of a 40m viaduct segment in Upper Changi Road East last Friday.

Speaking to The Straits Times on the sidelines of a Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) forum yesterday, Specialists Trade Alliance of Singapore president Nelson Tee said his association is finalising recommendations for the PSCC. This is expected to be released in the third quarter of this year, he revealed.

Mr Tee said: "As part of a WSH initiative, the PSCC will help close the gaps in workplace safety today by bringing together all stakeholders in minimising misunderstandings and identifying potential safety challenges together."

The changes add to the existing layers of checks that ensure that construction processes here are safe and that the building is structurally sound.

ST understands that the investigation into the viaduct collapse, which is led by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), will look into how some of these checks were done.

Associate Professor Goh Yang Miang, who chairs the health and safety engineering technical committee at The Institution of Engineers, Singapore, said he believes that "all duty holders involved" would likely be called up for the investigation.

This includes main contractor Or Kim Peow Contractors (OKP), project consultants CPG Consultants and the accredited checkers that are appointed by the LTA.

All 11 casualties, including the worker who was killed, were working for sub-contractors.

Dr Goh said the accident shows that safety culture in the industry still requires more work. He said: "There are many fundamental issues in the industry which are now surfacing in the form of accidents and low productivity."

He added that these issues primarily involve staff competencies and the need to inculcate a mindset for safety.

Procurement practices, both by government agencies and private developers, are also another area of concern, he said.

OKP had won the November 2015 LTA tender with a bid that was 27 per cent lower than the nearest competitor.

While the contractor has said that safety was not compromised, Dr Goh said budgets and time constraints can exert an effect on safety.