Lam: Tragedy a reminder to ensure construction site safety – Nation

PETALING JAYA: Inclement wea­ther should never be used as an excuse for landslides, says National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).

Instead, he said, the relevant parties should look into their weaknesses and check on whether standard operating procedures were followed and safety procedures and legislation complied with.

Friday’s tragedy at a construction site in Paya Terubong, Penang, was another example of safety lapses and inadequate attention given to workers’ safety, he said.

“It is the result of poor occupational safety and health practices at worksites,” he said in a statement.

Lee said the time had come for those who bid for contracts to provide safety policy statements, implement “hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control principle, and also furnish information regarding the experience and safety training given to their employees”.

This would help workers and their supervisors identify risks and find ways to avoid them, he added.

Lee said safety and health aspects in the construction sector should be improved and given priority because these sites were categorised as dangerous zones, not just for the workers but also for people in the surrounding areas.

During the rainy season, for instance, he said these work sites should have regular inspections.

“All local councils must also initiate measures such as having more safety inspections and audits to prevent rain-related mishaps at construction sites.

“Among others, they must compel construction sites to implement mitigation plans to prevent and counter landslides, debris and mud floods,” he added.

Lee also said that comprehensive geological studies should be conducted before any hill slope development projects could begin.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) called on the Penang government to put a stop to all work on hill-related construction projects until proper safety and environmental checks had been carried out.

Its president S.M. Mohd Idris said the landslide in Paya Terubong was another warning that people residing in areas near hill developments were living in danger.

“Despite a stop-work order having been issued by the Department of Occupational Health and Safety a few days ago in relation to a collapse of beams along the road project, it clearly shows that no safety and preventive measures were taken at the site to protect workers and prevent any mishaps,” he said in a statement.

Idris said a visit to the site of the landslide by CAP on Friday found clearings and barren steep slopes along the project site at almost 90°.

“There was no slope protection or soil stabilisation measures seen at the site, which is a clear invitation for disaster to happen,” he added.

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