Developers and designers will be liable to legal suits under amended law

PETALING JAYA (June 14) – Crane heads dropping from the sky, concrete pieces swishing out of nowhere and other unidentified flying objects have become some of the latest destroyers of belongings, limbs and even lives in Malaysia. These “terminators” from construction sites have posed real dangers to their workers, as well as to the passers-by and residents around them.

Granted, rapid construction works may be inevitable as the nation gallops towards the developed status, but the mishaps due to a less-than-diligent attitude is something that can be totally avoided.

In a move towards a safer environment in and around construction sites, the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is mooting an amendment to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.

“The law states that employers or main contractors will be held responsible [for construction site accidents]. But now, we will include developers and designers as well. The amendments are being finalised and will be tabled in Parliament,” DOSH director-general Omar Mat Piah was quoted as saying in The New Straits Times yesterday.

In an operation dubbed Ops Cegah Jatuh (Fall Prevention) carried out last Monday, Omar led 285 officers from the DOSH to spring surprise visits on various construction sites nationwide to check their compliance to safety regulations.

In a press statement released by the National Human Resource Ministry, it was reported that the operation, focusing on works involving liftings in multi-storey buildings, covered 96 construction sites. A total of 656 notices of compliance and 61 order letters were issued against various breaches, including exposed barriers at high level work sites, lack of plan for lifting activities, and lack of entry and exit passage for heavy vehicles.

Employers and contractors were reminded that each wrongdoing may be penalised up to RM50,000.

Omar added that last year, 4,266 accidents and 183 deaths were recorded at construction sites.

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