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    Rise in construction accidents worrying, says minister

    James Kon

    The construction industry in Brunei Darussalam recorded 84 accidents in 2020, which is an increase of 2.17 per cent compared to the 69 cases in 2019.

    Meanwhile, there were six cases of fatalities at construction sites in 2020, compared to seven in 2019.

    These worrying statistics were highlighted by Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar yesterday, during the launching of the Public Works Department’s (JKR) Safety and Health Week 2021 (MKK2021) at the JKR building.

    “According to statistics from the JKR’s Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Division, the preparation of project safety and health plans for construction projects showed an increase of 3.7 per cent in 2020, compared to 2019,” he said.

    Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Ir Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar. PHOTO: JAMES KON

    “Despite numerous efforts carried out by the relevant agencies and parties to reduce accidents at construction sites, accidents in construction sites still continue to persist and have not been reduced.

    “This matter needs to be taken seriously by the relevant authorities. We need to work hard at further boosting a sense of awareness on the importance of maintaining safety and health at construction workplaces, such as conducting a safety auditing which is a must; strengthening monitoring systems; and also conducting continuous training on aspects of safety at construction sites.”

    The minister then revealed that the among the most common accidents are falls from heights; being struck by falling objects; inefficiency and negligence in handling heavy machinery; and being caught in machinery or equipment.

    “Accidents at construction sites are also caused by failure to comply with the legal requirements, in addition to the practices or standards for health and safety in the workplace,” he said.

    “These include failing to use personal protective equipment (PPE); the use of unsuitable equipment; and the installation of equipment without following procedures, especially when working at heights.

    “JKR, through the HSE Division, has always implemented inspection and safety audits for projects under JKR, to ensure compliance with all of the required safety and health standards in the workplace – particularly construction sites – to prevent accidents.

    “JKR also requires the HSE Bill of Quantities and the HSE Specification to be included in all tenders for construction work, so that contractors will be able to prepare all of the requirements before undertaking any project.”

    The minister also revealed that the HSE Division conducted 122 inspections of construction sites in 2019, and 150 in 2020.

    “From the checks, it was found that many of the construction companies or contractors did not have a competent person for workplace safety and a health officer, or a workplace safety and health coordinator, to manage aspects of safety and health in the workplace, especially at construction sites.

    “The findings also reveal that the workers and management of construction sites are still lacking in training or participation in training related to safety and health, as stated under Workplace Health and Safety Order (WHSO) 2009, whereby all employers must make sure that their workers receive information and proper training in carrying out the tasks as instructed.

    “With this, I call on the relevant parties to always fulfil their responsibilities in health and safety management, especially workers and members of the public, beginning from the early stages of the project, by preparing a comprehensive Health and Safety Plan, and – most importantly – adequate risk assessments for all activities in each project.

    “I would also recommend that JKR conduct programmes of appreciation for the contractors committed to carrying out HSE management in the duration of the projects. This is aimed at further boosting safety levels at construction sites and encouraging contractors to adopt a culture of safety in the workplace, in order to assure workers’ safety at construction sites,” he said.

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