WSH Alert Accident Advisory, 18 March 2020: Worker fell through false ceiling

WSH Alert Accident Advisory, 18 March 2020: Worker fell through false ceiling

Mar 18, 2020

18 March 2020, Ref: 1920111

Accident Advisory: Worker fell through false ceiling

Ref: 1920093 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 29 January 2020

On 25 January 2020 around 1:25am, a worker was cleaning a walkway located above the atrium ceiling (false ceiling) of a shopping mall when he fell through the false ceiling. He was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

   Figure 1 and 2: Overview of the accident scene.


Building owners, designers and persons in control of similar workplaces and work activities such as occupiers and employers are advised to mitigate all WSH hazards and implement risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:

Building owners
Conduct thorough inspections to all areas to identify WSH hazards and assess
   WSH risks. WSH hazards include risk of falling from or falling through fragile
   surfaces. These risks are further aggravated if proper guard rails are not installed
   or there is inadequate lighting.
• Communicate the hazards and risks to contractors who will carry out maintenance
   work within the restricted/enclosed/concealed areas. Communication should be
   thorough and location-specific.
• Implement control measures to address all hazards identified, with consideration
   of prevailing regulations, standards and acceptable code of practices.

Examples include:

    – Provision of perimeter guard-railing or guard rail with intermediate guard rail
      shown in Figure 6.1 and Figure 6.4 in the Approved Code of Practice for
      Working Safely at Height.

  Figure 6.1: Perimeter guard-railing.                  Figure 6.4: Dimension requirements for
                                                                                          a temporary edge protection.

Note: The above requirements have been stipulated in regulation 9 of the Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013 and ACOP SS 567:2011 – Code of Practice for Factory Layout – Safety, Health and Welfare Consideration. For reference of temporary edge protection, refer to SS EN 13374.

      – If there are areas of fragile surface, warning signs must be displayed at all
        access points and on the guard rails at suitable intervals to warn persons
        from accidentally stepping onto them.
      – For poorly lit areas, additional permanent lightings must be provided so
        that hazard(s) can be easily identified along with their corresponding risk
        control measures.
Conduct site-specific risk assessment to the work area for any safety lapses and
   ensure that precautions have been taken before commencing work.
• Provide standing supervision when carrying out works near false ceiling or
   fragile surface.
• Brief workers on on-site hazards, risk controls that are in place and the
   necessary precautions to take while at work, including proper use of equipment
   and materials for the work.

•  Ensure that workers have undergone and passed the relevant training for work
    where there is a risk of falling.
When designing access walkway, services (e.g. Mechanical and Electrical) or
   supporting structures (e.g. trusses) for restricted or enclosed areas, always
   pay attention to provision for safe access and egress, adequate lighting and
   provision of fall protection to future work to be carried out in these areas, such
   as maintenance work by building contractors, inspection work by Qualified
   Persons or installation of telecommunication devices by specialist contractors.
   As a good practice, designers should engage with downstream stakeholders
   (e.g. Facilities Management practitioners and contractors) to appreciate the
   way maintenance would be undertaken and account for this at planning and
   design stage.
• The WSH (Design for Safety) Regulation stipulated that during the design of a
   building, regardless of whether it is a new-build construction or an Addition and 
   Alteration project, developers / building owners and designers must always
   remember that their design decisions can affect the health and safety of workers
   and others who construct, maintain, repair, clean, refurbish and eventually
   demolish or remove the building or structure. Taking into account risks arising
   from the design can have a positive impact on the project and make it easier for
   these risks to be managed by contractors who construct and those who maintain
   the structure.
• The WSH Guidelines on Design for Safety helps designers to understand and be
   aware of significant risks that workers can be exposed to, and how these can
   arise from their design decisions. Through a maintenance strategy report,
   designers must capture and provide their clients with health and safety
   information that might affect them or downstream stakeholders during and
   after construction, for example, details on how to clean, access or maintain
   parts of their design.

Further Information

1. Workplace Safety and Health Act
2. Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations
3. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
4. Workplace Safety and Health (Design for Safety) Regulations 2015
5. Workplace Safety and Health (Construction) Regulations 2007
6. Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013
7. Approved Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
8. Approved Code of Practice for Working Safely at Height
9. Approved Code of Practice SS 567:2011 – Code of Practice for Factory Layout
    – Safety, Health and Welfare Consideration
10. Approved Code of Practice SS 531: Code of Practice for Lighting of work places
      Part 1: Indoor
11. Approved Code of Practice SS 531: Code of Practice for Lighting of work places
      Part 2: Outdoor
12. Approved Code of Practice SS 531: Code of Practice for Lighting of work places
      Part 3: Lighting requirements for safety and security of outdoor work places
13. Approved Code of Practice SS EN 13374: Temporary edge protection systems
      – Product specifications – Test methods
14. Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines on Design for Safety
15. Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines for Personal Protective Equipment for
      Work at Heights
16. WSH Guidelines on Anchorages, Lifelines and Temporary Edge Protection Systems
17. Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines on Contractor Management
18. 6 Basic Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Rules for Working at Heights
19. Work At Heights Toolkit for Supervisors
20. Working Safely at Heights checklist
21. Design for Maintainability Guide by BCA
22. Facade Access Design Guide by BCA

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at
9 March 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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