'Level of training and competency of contractors must be questioned'

PETALING JAYA: Questions must be asked about the level of training and competency of contractors involved in the construction industry.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pix) said the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) is responsible for the training and licencing of those in the construction industry and questioned whether the training was good enough.

He said the recent spate of accidents ha\ve taken the lives of numerous people and the public has the right to worry about their safety when passing a construction site.

"The construction industry must have a careful and thorough relook at the safety standards and not simply pay lip service every time there is an accident," he said.

"All those involved must keep their eye on the ball at all times and the level of training for those operating heavy machinery must be stepped up."

Lee said there are operational issues involved and must be dealt with by CIDB and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), which is responsible for safety and enforcement.

He said there is a strong possibility that some contractors, in an attempt to cut cost, are hiring those that lack the necessary skills to operate heavy machinery.

He pointed out that the Master Builders Association Malaysia had highlighted the local construction industry was facing a shortage of competent crane operators as there are not enough locals to fill the gap.

He said the construction industry recorded higher fatality rates last year - 140 people were killed, a 57% increase compared with 2014.

Lee said the latest incident where a crane collapsed at Bandar Damansara Perdana on Monday had again raised concerns of safety at construction sites.

On Aug 25, a woman was killed when a crane hook at a construction site fell on her car at Jalan Raja Chulan and on Nov 4, two people were killed when a piling rig collapsed and fell onto their car at a construction site on Jalan Astana.

He said under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA), the site's main contractor is responsible for ensuring the safe use of cranes on the construction site and under the Factories and Machinery Act 1967 also requires cranes to be installed and maintained by a competent company registered with DOSH.

He urged the authorities to be more stringent in monitoring and enforcing laws and regulations.