Keeping track of safety standards
07 Jun 2016 | The Star

IT is undeniable that the construction sector in Malaysia is fraught with a less than stellar safety record.

Based on Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) report in 2015, the fatality rate in the construction industry in Malaysia was more than three times compared to other kinds of workplaces, even though the manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, logging and fishery sectors lead the overall occupational accidents that result in non-permanent disability, permanent disability or death.

Of particular concern to regulators are major public infrastructure projects, such as the construction of the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya (SSP) Line (or Line 2) of the Klang Valley MRT (KVMRT) project, as well as the LRT3 line from Petaling Jaya to Klang, with both projects starting work this year.

The project owner of KVMRT, Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd (MRT Corp) has, so far, recorded 10 worker fatalities while constructing Line 1 of the KVMRT that starts from Sungai Buloh to Kajang. Prasarana Malaysia Bhd, project owner of the Line Extension Programme involving the Ampang and Kelana Jaya LRT lines, has seen three worker fatalities, as well as the death of a member of the public.

MRT Corp is pushing for the use of safer scaffolds that are solidly planted on the grounded, and with new requirements such as toebrands fitted to prevent tools or materials falling down and injuring people below the scaffold.

Recently, MRT Corp and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) launched a campaign to put a halt to these unsatisfactory statistics by putting more pressure on its project delivery partner, MMC-Gamuda KVMRT PDP Sdn Bhd (MGJV-PDP) to up its standards.

MRT Corp invested RM10mil for a slew of safety-related initiatives, with the key one being the setting up of the KVMRT Training Centre on a 1.1ha site in Sungai Buloh together with MGJV-PDP.

The fully equipped training centre is purpose-built to train workers involved in electrified rail infrastructure construction, and is considered one of the best of its kind in South-East Asia.

Other than this, the centre also includes exhibits for the continuous education of the construction community so that everyone can benefit from experiencing the best practices from internationally-benchmarked Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) modules.

The setting up of the training centre came following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with MGJV-PDP, together with CIDB Holdings Sdn Bhd (CIDB’s training arm) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). CIDB comes under the Works Ministry, while NIOSH is under the Human Resources Ministry.

The MoU enables stakeholders to develop programmes that improve and sustain a culture that prioritise OSH matters, other than delivering an enhanced OSH programme for the SSP Line.

The areas of cooperation under the MoU are in raising awareness, developing skills and competency especially in high-risk activities, consultancy and information sharing.

In his speech during the signing ceremony, MRT Corp chief executive officer Datuk Seri Shahril Mokhtar said he hoped the collaboration would result in higher OSH standards in the entire construction sector in Malaysia.

“This will enable the KVMRT Project to become an example in terms of best practices in OSH,” he said.

The training centre will be the platform where training based on an enhanced OSH programme will be carried out in collaboration with CIDB Holdings and NIOSH.

The enhanced safety regime will see the introduction of the Safety Passport Scheme, the Master Trainer Scheme, as well as the Safety, Health and Environment Performance Assessment Scheme, arrangements that ensures that the entire construction supply chain such as subcontractors, crane companies, transporters and suppliers also receive adequate training.

So far, the training centre’s Master Trainer Scheme has produced 40 master trainers, who went on to help train 300 trainers and assessors. The ultimate target is to train more than 20,000 workers to be “safety-ready” by the time the SSP Line construction starts this month.