Accident Advisory: Worker fell from formwork structure

Accident Advisory: Worker fell from formwork structure

Feb 04, 2021

4 February 2021, Ref: 2021090

Accident Advisory: Worker fell from formwork structure

Ref: 2021076 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 26 November 2020

On 24 November 2020, a worker was checking formwork panels at a construction site when he lost his footing and fell about 0.8m to the ground. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the next day.

                                                                Figure 1: Scene of the accident.


Persons in control of workplaces and work activities such as occupiers, employers and principals are advised to consider the following risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:

Safe formwork
Proprietary formwork systems should be erected and used strictly in accordance with 
  manufacturers’ instructions; and
• Provide adequate space for all work activities involving installation and dismantling of
   formwork structure.
Safe access
• Provide safe means of access to and around the formwork structure for the purpose of
   checking and inspection;
• Clearly mark designated access points with a sign or label and conduct on-site checks
   to ensure that access routes are safe for use;
• Access equipment (e.g. step ladder, tower scaffold, access platform) should be of
   suitable height for the task and fitted with the necessary guard railing to prevent falls.
   See examples of access platforms in Figure 2 and Figure 3;
Figures 2 and 3: Examples of access platform.
Image source: Courtesy of TEAMBUILD
• Ensure that the selected access equipment is of adequate strength and is wide enough,
   taking into consideration the tools and/ or equipment that workers are expected to
   carry; and

• Provide sufficient access platforms for the task so that there is no sharing of access
   equipment/platforms across teams at different work locations.
Safe use of tools
• Select the correct type, size and weight of tool for the task. Every tool has its proper
   application. Using the wrong tool or misusing a tool is often an invitation for personal
   injury and/or damage;

• Check tools regularly. Tools should be thoroughly examined before use and before
   storage. If found to be damaged or worn, tools should be sent for repair or
   discarded; and
• When not in use, return tools to their original storage location. Do not leave tools
   behind at the work site as this may present a tripping hazard or falling object hazard.
Worker training and supervision
• Ensure all workers exposed to work at height have received adequate Workplace
   Safety and Health (WSH) training and are familiar with the hazards of working at 
   heights and the precautionary measures to be taken. Should the work involve 
   hazardous work at height (liable to fall 3m and more), a permit-to-work system for 
   such work must be implemented;

• Train workers on the safe use of access equipment and the tools provided;

• Site workers must be briefed on the safe method of work by the supervisor prior to
   work commencement. The briefing should also include the hazards which may be
   encountered on-site, the risk controls that have been put in place, and the emergency
   response procedures; and
• Provide on-site supervision to ensure that Safe Work Procedures are strictly adhered 
   to, risk controls are not bypassed, and Personal Protective Equipment are worn 
Head protection
Equip workers with a safety helmet with chin strap. A properly-fitted correctly-worn
   helmet can reduce the risk of head injuries in the event of a fall. 
Worker health
• Conduct a pre-work health survey at the start of each work shift to verify each
   worker’s fitness to work for the task at hand. Workers who are feeling unwell should
   not be placed on the task or work shift.

Risk Assessment

Conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to manage any foreseeable risk when working with formwork structures. In particular, the RA should cover:

• the possibility of workers falling from the formwork structure; 
• the provision of safe means of access and egress to and from the designated work

• the need for active on-site task supervision;

• the need for effective workplace housekeeping; and

• the training that each worker must fulfil prior to deployment.

Further Information

1. Workplace Safety and Health Act 
2. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
3. Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations
4. Workplace Safety and Health (Construction) Regulations
5. Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013
6. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
7. Code of Practice on Working Safely at Heights
8. Singapore Standard SS 98: 2013 Specification for Industrial Safety Helmets
9. Singapore Standard SS 580: 2020 – Code of Practice for Formwork
10. Ministry of Manpower Circular on Safety Requirements for Formwork Structures
11. WSH Guidelines on Workplace Housekeeping
12. WSH Council’s Safety Timeout Checklist for Working at Heights
13. WSH Council’s Safety Timeout Checklist for Formwork

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at
10 Dec 2020. This may be subject to change as investigations are still on-going. Please note that the recommendations provided here are not exhaustive and they are meant to enhance workplace safety and health so that a recurrence may be prevented. The information and recommendations provided are not to be construed as implying any liability on any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations under the law.


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