Tuesday, 26 September 2023

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Fatal collapse at Tanjong Pagar demolition site prompts WSH Council to issue safety guidelines

SINGAPORE — A 20-year-old worker, who was walking along a pedestrian path adjacent to the Tanjong Pagar worksite, was killed when a concrete wall collapsed on him, according to a report by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council.

The tragic incident happened on 15 June at the site where the Fuji Xerox Towers was being demolished.

The deceased, identified as Indian national Vinoth Kumar, was reported missing around 2 pm on the same day. He was later found trapped under a collapsed reinforced concrete structure at about 6 pm. Despite efforts to rescue him, Kumar was pronounced dead at the scene, showing no signs of life – no pulse or breathing.

The arduous recovery operation, which lasted nearly four hours, revealed that a wall segment from the second storey of the building under demolition had collapsed, pinning Kumar underneath.

In response to this heartbreaking incident, the WSH Council has issued an alert outlining safety guidelines and precautions for companies to follow during high-risk construction activities such as demolition works.

The council stressed that a professional engineer must prepare a demolition method statement, ensuring the stability of all structures adjacent to the demolition site.

Six crucial measures have been recommended by the council, including conducting a detailed pre-demolition survey to assess the structural stability of the building and its surroundings. Installation of additional supports to maintain stability during demolition was also emphasized.

Companies are also advised to establish a comprehensive demolition plan, detailing the sequence and approach, while keeping workers informed about the safe sequence of work and the method statement. The introduction of a permit-to-work system was suggested to maintain safe working conditions.

To prevent potential collapses of large wall segments, the council advises adopting a top-down wall-hacking approach, ensuring that the work is carried out safely without compromising the remaining structure’s integrity.

The importance of activity-based risk assessments, along with the implementation of relevant risk controls and safe work procedures, was also underscored by the WSH Council.

In terms of supervisory measures, the council insisted that demolition activities be closely monitored to detect and rectify any unsafe conditions or safety lapses promptly.

Finally, the council suggested that demolition contractors, consultant representatives, and supervisory staff consider attending the demolition safety course conducted by the Singapore Contractors Association Limited.

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