Independent inquiry needed for fatal crane accident in Penang

An independent inquiry is urgently needed to assess the role and functions of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), besides reviewing the Occupational Safety and Health Act to ensure overall safety, health and welfare of all workers and public.

This call is made by the Consumers’ Association of Penang in view of the recent spate of accidents involving heavy machineries.  Yesterday one person died while three others were injured when a seven-storey-high crane tower at a construction site toppled and damaged some buildings in Georgetown, Penang.

News reports state that the crane was installed at the site to construct a 20-storey hotel and quoted the Penang State Department of Occupational Safety and Health director saying that no structure had been erected at the site although the crane was installed in June.

This accident is clearly a case of negligence on the part of the developer. The police are correct in investigating the case under the Penal Code for committing a rash or negligent act that could endanger human life and for causing death without intention.

In Malaysia, this is not the first case of crane accidents that has caused fatality.  In the past, there have been cases when falling loads from the crane had crushed people and caused death, as well as cranes tipping over and causing injuries or death of workers or passersby.

Important lessons to be learnt from these accidents are that cranes can be extremely dangerous if not operated properly and all parts or mechanism of this heavy machine must be in good condition. Occupational and public safety should be highest priority and thus all safety precautions and regulations must be strictly adhered to.  Failure to do so is to invite more death and injuries.

Has DOSH taken adequate measures to protect persons at workplace and members of public at risk or has the department been inattentive? DOSH should conduct frequent checks to ensure that heavy machinery such as cranes are in good working condition, meet all safety requirements and operated by properly trained, qualified and experienced operators.

Heavy machinery operators with an occupational safety certificate would have all the necessary information about safety risks, precautions and safety tips that will enable them to operate these heavy machines without any problem and help in avoiding any serious accidents at work.

We cannot allow any more neglect and disregard to safety as lives have been lost and serious injuries sustained.

Letter to the Editor, 6 October 2011