Foreign workers are not expendable

The news about the mezzanine floor of a hypermarket under construction collapsing yesterday at Pulau Sebang, Alor Gajah, Malacca, is shocking to say the least.

Reports state that the mezzanine floor collapsed after the staging was removed. Fifteen foreign workers, turned victims, were said to have been inside the building at the time — 3 are dead, 6 injured and another 6 are still missing.

The fact that our State Fire and Rescue Department and other rescue personnel from various departments responded to the distress situation well, is beside the point. This incident should not have happened in the first place.

Why did the foreign workers remove the staging if the cement had not yet set? Who instructed them to remove the staging? Where was the safety officer for the construction site when this incident took place? Surely there are mandatory procedures that must be followed to ensure these things do not happen. It seems that construction site accidents are happening too often, as of late.

This year alone saw many incidents that resulted in the death of construction workers. Have the people responsible been charged for these deaths? The public is still in the dark about what action has been taken against those responsible, if any action has been taken at all. Something is clearly wrong in the construction industry.

CAP calls on the ministry to set up a special committee to look into all past and present construction site accidents and to make public the results of their investigations. Furthermore, those responsible should be charged under the Penal code if they were found to be negligent at the time of the accidents and their negligence resulted in the death of the construction workers as the Occupational Safety and Health Act spells out that the employer should provide safe working place to its employees.

Press statement, 24 July 2015