Why regional construction specialist bags top global awards for workplace safety
09 Jan 2023 | The Straits Times

Constantly pushing limits to keep its employees safe at work, Malaysian firm Gamuda Berhad is lauded for upholding stringent standards for its projects

Gamuda Berhad deputy group managing director Dato’ Ir Ha Tiing Tai (far right) receives the Excellent Honour in Construction Golden Safety Award from Taiwan’s Minister of Labor Hsu Ming-chun (centre).

Gamuda Berhad made history when it picked up the coveted Excellent Honour in Construction Golden Safety Award in December last year. It became the first Malaysian company to win this safety award from Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor.

The regional construction group, together with its Taiwanese partner, Dong-Pi Construction Co Ltd, won the top accolade for the ongoing construction of the Guantang Marine Bridge in Taoyuan.

First Malaysian firm to win top Taiwanese safety award

The project has been lauded for its focus on employee welfare as a key component for ensuring security and health. It has been singled out for its rigorous engineering and safety measures to mitigate weather-related risks to marine construction workers.

Referring to the award from Taiwan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Mr Justin Chin, Gamuda Engineering’s managing director, says that the company takes great pride in pushing the ceiling higher when it comes to upholding the culture of safety in all their projects.

In 2019, Gamuda was awarded to construct the 1.23km-long Marine Bridge at Guantang, which was in 2022 extended by 376m, making it to a total length of 1.61km.

“We take great satisfaction in being the first Malaysian firm to receive such an honour from Taiwan, and we are incredibly appreciative of our workforce’s commitment to advancing our safety cause,” Mr Chin adds.

The RM521.75m (S$159m) project from Taiwan’s state-owned energy company, CPC Corporation, to support CPC Corporation’s Third Liquefied Natural Gas Receiving Terminal at Taoyuan, is at 80 per cent completion to date.

Awarded in 2019, the project involves the construction of a 1.23km marine bridge connecting a receiving terminal to a man-made island and a 284m-long road embankment, which includes soil investigation, a foundation, a temporary bridge and a working platform, together with environmental protection works. In 2022, the marine bridge was extended by 376m, totalling to 1.61km, and is slated for completion in 2024.

Gamuda’s marine bridge project is hailed for its exceptional safety features. Considering the weather risks associated with marine construction, it assembled a risk management team with expertise in maritime meteorology to monitor, predict, and forecast wind, waves, tides and currents to minimise risks to life and property.

For pile cap construction, it opted to use a steel box cofferdam so that workers can work in dry condition and away from the waves. In addition, the company designed the project so that the bridge would be constructed using pre-cast segmental girder boxes instead of in-situ casting. This was done to reduce the amount of offshore lifting work, concrete work, and work at height.

Worthy to note, this is not the first award won by the company in Taiwan. Gamuda’s first tunnelling job, in which the group built 3.86km of the 43km-long Kaohsiung Metropolitan Mass Rapid Transit line, received the Air Quality Protection Award and National Environmental Protection Outstanding Award from the Taiwan government for its rigorous approach to environmental protection, quality control and project management.

A hat-trick of safety honours

Meanwhile, Gamuda’s top safety honours did not stop there. For the third time, Gamuda’s joint venture with MMC Corporation Berhad for the Klang Valley MRT (KVMRT) project bagged the Sword of Honour from the British Safety Council (BSC).

From left: Mr Justin Chin, managing director of Gamuda Engineering and Mr Mohd Razin Ghazali, chief operating officer of MMC Corporation Berhad, receiving the Sword of Honour from Mr Mike Robinson, the chief executive of British Safety Council.

Founded in 1957, the BSC – with members in more than 60 countries – has fought to protect workers from accidents, hazards, and unsafe conditions, and helped pass landmark UK safety legislation. Its global members believe a healthy and safe workplace is necessary and crucial for business.

Created in 1980, the Sword of Honour is awarded to occupational health and safety’s most exemplary practitioners. Gamuda had picked up the Sword of Honour in 2019 and 2020.

“To achieve the Sword of Honour, the highest standards of health, safety and environmental management once is laudable – to win it twice is impressive, but to earn a third one is to be at another level altogether,” says Mr Mike Robinson, BSC chief executive.

Last year, Gamuda – the main contractor for the MRT Putrajaya Line, the second of the KVMRT line that runs from Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya via Serdang – received a total of two awards from the BSC: One for overall excellence in maintaining workplace health and safety, and the other for excelling in a comprehensive safety audit.

The Hospital Kuala Lumpur Crossover, a stretch of the underground tracks of the 56.2km MRT Putrajaya Line, is built by Gamuda in a joint venture with MMC Corporation.

“These awards are a testament to the sustained effort of our people to continual improvement in managing risks and striving for international safety and health best practices year after year,” says Mr Chin, who was in London to receive the Sword of Honour on behalf of Gamuda.

“While we continue delivering our projects, we want to leave a lasting legacy when it comes to safety and health, and continue to lead in this space regionally.”

Gamuda Engineering’s Mr Chin (fourth from left) and MMC Corporation Berhad’s Mr Razin with the prestigious Sword of Honour from the British Safety Council, together with members of the MMC Gamuda joint venture project team.

Gamuda is one of the select few organisations worldwide out of 118 applicants that qualified for the 2022 Sword of Honour and also the only Malaysian company to do so to date.

In fact, the Sword of Honour assessment methodology is now even more intertwined with the Five Star Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) Audit by the BSC. Nominees must earn a score of at least 92 per cent in the previous year’s OSH audit. Only organisations with a five-star rating can be considered for the Sword of Honour. In 2021, Gamuda also earned a five-star score in BSC’s OSH Audit.

As part of its commitment to OSH excellence, Gamuda voluntarily participates in BSC’s Five Star Occupational Health and Safety Audit. The company’s OSH policies, processes, and practices are thoroughly assessed during the year-long audit.

The BSC audit consists of document review, interviews with senior management, employees, and other key stakeholders, as well as a two-week sampling of on-site activities. It also assesses the company’s health and safety management best practices using over 60 components. The 2019 audit included mental health and building information management (BIM).