GEORGE TOWN: The Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) has been taken to task over the recent collapse of a multi-storey car park near the Gombak LRT station in Taman Melati.
Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) vice-president Mohideen Abdul Kader said DOSH had failed to ensure compliance of safety aspects at the worksite where the collapse took place, killing a couple and injuring three others.
He said CAP had conducted checks at the construction site and discovered that employees did not wear safety apparel such as helmets and harnesses, fall protection equipment (when working above six feet), safety jackets, protective gloves and hearing protection.
“Who should be blamed for this non-compliance of the safety aspect at the worksite? The employees themselves, the employer, or the enforcement body?
“This is an indictment of the pathetic state of enforcement by DOSH and raises the question whether DOSH is any longer relevant.
“A large amount of construction work is ongoing in the country and these are major contributors to the economy, yet the safety of the workers, mainly the manual workers, is not given the importance it deserves. It is as if their lives are cheap,” he said in a statement.
Two foreign workers were killed, another had his hand trapped and partially amputated, and another two narrowly escaped when a building under construction near the Gombak LRT station collapsed yesterday.
The bodies of the two foreign workers, who were husband and wife, were found in an embrace.
DOSH has issued an immediate stop work order at the construction site.
In 2017, 711 workers were killed on the job in 2017, with 183 of the fatalities occurring at construction sites, a figure Mohideen called “shocking and disgraceful”.
“It means that those in the construction industry do not respect the law because they do not fear the law, and that is because of non-professional enforcement of the law.
“Taking action only after major accidents have happened and people have been killed is not a consolation to the families of the victims.
“Recalcitrant consultants should be de-registered so as to send a strong message that any incompetence and negligence will not be tolerated,” he said.
He also questioned DOSH stand that projects costing over RM20 million were “self-regulated”.
Mohideen stressed that DOSH was wrong to think that “self-regulated” projects do not need to be audited by it.
“Is safety being compromised as it might cost more to put in all the safety measures required under the law than to pay compensation for the life and limb of manual workers? Why does DOSH think that there is no need to check on the safety consultants’ work at these big projects?”
CAP has outlined several recommendations to improve the role of DOSH to ensure worksite safety.
These include: appointing dedicated consultants in charge of safety; carrying out unannounced spot checks even at projects costing over RM20 million; and imposing the maximum penalty for the first offence to drive home the point that workers’ safety is a serious matter.
CAP also suggested the penalty should be raised to not less than 10 per cent of the project cost or not less than two years’ imprisonment.
“We urge DOSH to take a tough stand with errant contractors or developers so as to prevent worksite accidents,” added Mohideen.