WSH Alert Accident Advisory, 24 August 2020: Worker fell though floor opening

WSH Alert Accident Advisory, 24 August 2020: Worker fell though floor opening

Aug 24, 2020

24 August 2020, Ref: 2021042

Accident Advisory: Worker fell though floor opening

Ref: 2021038 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 5 August 2020

On 3 August 2020, a group of workers was carrying out Addition & Alteration (A&A) works on the second storey of a building. When two of the workers tried to remove the wooden planks on the floor, one of them fell through a floor opening under the planks and landed on the first storey. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

                                                        Figure 1: The worker fell 6.4m to
                                                        the ground.


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

Covered floor opening
All floor openings should be securely covered to prevent persons from falling
   through or stepping into the opening. The cover must be made of a material
   that is of adequate strength to support the weight of the person(s) standing on it.
   The cover should also be secured to prevent it from dislodging.
• When an opening is protected by a cover, a suitable warning sign ought to be
   placed nearby and/or on the cover itself to alert workers of the presence of a
   hazard. The warning sign should clearly indicate the hazard and be legible to
   all concerned, including workers and members of the public.
Figure 2: Examples of suitable warning signs.
Barricading of hazardous area
All hazardous areas such as floor openings where there is a risk of falling should
   be barricaded (e.g. with fencing, hoarding or guard rails) to prevent unauthorised
   entry. The barriers should be erected on all paths and possible approaches to the
   hazard location. 
 Figure 3: Example of a secure barrier.
Risk communication and WSH awareness
Brief all workers on the possible hazards and risks that they could encounter in
   the designated work area. Principals and employers may use toolbox meetings
   to communicate on-site hazards and the risk controls in place to all persons
   (including contractors) about to work in the vicinity. In general, workers should
   be advised to stay away from hazardous areas especially if their work does not
   require them to be at that location.
• Should there be a need to work next to an area where one could fall from height,
   remind workers to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves by using
   proper personal protective equipment (e.g. non-slip shoes and harness/belt to
   connect to a travel restraint or personal fall arrest system). 

Risk Assessment

Employers and contractors are reminded to conduct a thorough risk assessment before starting A&A works to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise. Recognise hazards associated with building interior works such as unprotected edges or openings and address the possibility of falling from height. Occupiers and employers are reminded of the need to establish a fall prevention plan and to work closely with their principals and contractors to ensure the safety of all work areas. For floor openings, key measures include installing secure covers, erecting suitable barriers, placing warning signs and deploying a travel restraint or fall arrest system. To prevent accidents, it is important that on-site rectifications are carried out as soon as possible once an unsafe condition is identified.   


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 (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013
5. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
6. Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights 
7. Singapore Standard SS508 series – Graphical Symbols – Safety Colours and
    Safety Signs 
8. WSH Guidelines on Anchorage, Lifelines and Temporary Edge Protection Systems
9. WSH Guidelines on Personal Protective Equipment for Work at Heights
10. WSH Guidelines on Contractor Management
11. WSH Council’s Guide to Effective Toolbox Meeting 
12. WSH Council’s Case Studies on Accidents Involving Work at Heights
13. WSH Council’s 6 Basic WSH Rules for Work at Heights
14. WSH Council’s Activity Based Checklist for Working Safely at Heights

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at
13 August 2020. This may be subject to change as investigations are still on-going. Please also 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 liability on any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations under the law.


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