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By Soon Li Wei
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – E-hailing driver Sazali Mat Hassan is gripped by fear each time he navigates an area where construction work is going on adjacent to or above the road.
The sight of machinery and cranes lifting heavy building materials is a nerve-wracking sight for him. He has every reason to fear for his and his passengers’ safety as there had been several instances of objects falling on cars and even passers-by from LRT and MRT, as well as high-rise building and elevated highway, project sites.
“I’m especially worried when I’m driving during peak hours and get stuck in a traffic jam in an area where construction work is going on. I worry about objects falling down and crashing onto the cars.
“It’s not just us drivers, passengers and workers whose lives are in peril… even pedestrians are at risk because in some areas, I see them waiting at a bus stop right in the midst of a construction site,” Sazali, 41, told Bernama.
Safety practices at construction sites have been of top concern in the past decade or so with the roll out of major infrastructure projects in Malaysia. Several workers have been killed or injured in accidents at construction sites. Not only that, objects falling from overhead construction works have caused fatalities among members of the public too.
On Aug 25, 2016, the driver of a Perodua Kelisa was crushed to death when a 500kg crane hook fell on her car at Jalan Raja Chulan, here.
On March 22, 2021, three workers were killed after a crane gave way and landed on a car at a construction site along the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE), Cheras. The driver of the car was severely injured.
Commenting on the issue of safety at construction sites, Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) Construction Site Safety Division director Nazruddin Mat Ali said all stakeholders, including the client or project owner, designer and contractor, play a role in ensuring safety at construction sites, as stipulated under the Occupational Safety and Health in Construction Industry (Management) 2017 (OSHCIM) guidelines.
He said under the OSHCIM guidelines, as well as Regulation 25 (1) of the Factories and Machinery (Building Operations and Works of Engineering Construction) (Safety) Regulations 1986 (BOWEC), the safe execution of construction works is not something that’s only practised during the construction process or post-construction stage.
“In fact, the mitigation of hazardous risks must begin as early as possible, that is, during the construction planning and designing stage itself,” he said when speaking at the 20th Master Builders Association Malaysia’s (MBAM) Annual Safety and Health Conference 2022, themed Construction Safety – Beyond Compliance In The New Dawn, held here recently.
Under BOWEC, the principal contractor is required to appoint a safety supervisor to carry out safety inspections on construction activities at the building site.
Nazruddin also said that working at height (WAH) – where an employee can fall from a height of more than three metres – and getting hit by a falling object are the main causes of death at construction sites.
He said up to November 2020, a total of 63 deaths were reported at construction sites, with 34 of them linked to WAH.
“About 81 percent of the (construction site) fatalities were caused by four types of accidents – working at height (36.5 percent), falling objects (17.5 percent), vehicles (15.9 percent) and excavation works (11.1 percent),” he said.
According to Nazruddin, the risk of accidents can be reduced by 54 percent if designers take the WAH aspect into account when designing structures and buildings, and clients are given exposure to the risks that await them.
“At construction sites, it’s usual for lorry drivers to reverse their vehicles and this situation is among the causes of accidents involving vehicles. So, if designers are able to reduce the element of reversing in their project plans, mishaps caused by heavy vehicles can be lowered,” he explained.
WORKING AT HEIGHT REGULATIONS
Nazruddin, meanwhile, said his division will introduce a special regulation, which will be made part of the OSCIM guidelines, to address problems linked to WAH at construction sites.
“We’ve to use the hierarchy of controls in the WAH concept. If possible, avoid WAH either by design, methods of working or technology.
“Work on the ground (level) and when it (structure) is ready, bring the workers up by using the industrial building system technology. Permanent platforms or walkways can also be built at the existing place of work to avoid WAH,” he said, adding that the new regulation applies to situations where WAH cannot be avoided.
“We are creating a guideline to prevent falls, as well as minimise the (falling) distance and consequences of falls by, for example, (installing) safety nets, airbags, crash deck and fall arrest (system).”
Nazruddin said the safety features can also be implemented in existing multi-storey buildings.
“In condominiums, for example, the air-conditioning systems come in enclosed gratings to enable workers to carry out maintenance and repair works safely,” he added.
The Malaysian Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), meanwhile, issued a construction industrial standard, namely CIS 28:2021, in November 2020 to ensure the safety of road users as well as workers on construction sites.
CIDB Safety, Health and Environment Division manager Mazurah Ismail said the new CIS, which can be downloaded from the board’s website www.cidb.gov.my, was approved by the government as a result of a series of construction site accidents at SUKE highway since September 2020.
CIS 28:2021 is aimed at preventing falling object occurrences during construction works adjacent to or above existing roadways; ensuring public safety at the construction zone by having adequate safety control measures and procedures; and guiding contractors on the use of checklists and taking necessary precautionary measures when planning construction works adjacent to or above existing roadways.
"It sets out safe work practices for the contractor to comply with when carrying out construction works adjacent to and above roadways, and prior to work commencement, during the execution of the work and upon completion of the work through checklists,” she said, adding that CIS 28:2021 applies to construction zones or the vicinity such as viaducts, fly-over, bridges, elevated highways, elevated rail tracks, telecommunication pylons and transmission lines.
Mazurah said contractors, project consultants and clients must use CIS 28:2021 as a guideline for providing and maintaining a safe plant and work system, as well as comply with the regulations and requirements imposed by the authorities.
"It is also applicable to workers who must ensure their work does not harm road users and others. They should not carry out works without instruction and training," she said.
She added that CIS 28:2021 comprises 12 technical committees, with the members representing stakeholders such as MRT Corp, Real Estate & Housing Developers Association Malaysia, DOSH, Public Works Department, Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, CIDB and MBAM.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
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