Expert: Embrace safety culture, enact stricter laws against errant contactors

UNLESS our businesses and authorities embrace safety culture as a way of life, accidents like what happened at the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE) site will persist.

“Honestly, we’re poor in embracing culture of safety. If we have that mindset, we won’t have to wait for an enforcement officer to come tell us on what is right and wrong,” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye told FocusM.

Yesterday, three people died while one motorist was severely injured after a construction crane collapsed along the SUKE highway and crushed a car.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

The accident occurred near a condominium in Persiaran Alam Damai, Cheras.

Subsequently, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof issued a stop-work order on the highway contractor, announcing a safety audit will be conducted at the place where the crane toppled.

This is the second accident involving SUKE site. The last case near Bandar Tasik Selatan left two people dead and three people seriously injured.

Touching on the matter, Lee said that there must a be total commitment from both contractors and the authorities to ensure all safety regulations are followed to the letter.

Safety audit is vital

“The thing is we have the law (Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994) but the commitment is lacking,” he opined.

While Lee agreed that enforcement needs beefing up, he stressed the need for self-regulation as the best solution to the situation.

“Safety audit is of utmost importance. Contractors should not wait for the authorities to tell them the dos and don’ts,” he added.

On that note, Lee urged the Government to impose stricter punishment on errant contractors, as it was obvious that fines alone are not sufficient to ensure compliance.

“There was case in our neighbouring country, where there was an accident at a construction site. The safety officer was charged in court and jailed.

“We must have that kind of punishment here to serve as a deterrent. The Government must send a message that it will not compromise on workplace safety any longer,” Lee remarked. – March 23, 2021.

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