Accident Advisory: Worker fell through partition board

Accident Advisory: Worker fell through partition board

29 Nov 2019

Ref No.: 291119 (2)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Accident Advisory: Worker fell through partition board

Ref: 1920067 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 22 November 2019

On 14 November 2019 around 9:30am, a worker performing housekeeping works fell 4.7 metres through a partition board on the floor of level 1 to basement 1 of a building undergoing Addition & Alteration (A&A). The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.


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

Design for Safety

  • As stipulated in the Workplace Safety and Health (Design for Safety) Regulations, stakeholders such as developers, designers and contractors) to work together to address risks at the source and jointly develop plans for all works to be carried out safely for new buildings and buildings undergoing A&A.
  • Ensure that the existence of hazards involving floor openings are eliminated during the building design stage, where possible. This can be achieved by securing floor openings with load-bearing concrete slabs, metal plates or steel gratings to eliminate the risk of a worker falling through.
  • Floor openings should never be covered with non-load bearing materials (e.g., partition board or acrylic sheet) as the hazard will remain. Floor coverings must be of adequate strength to withstand loads and impact, and securely fixed in place to prevent accidental displacement.

Effective Edge Protection

  • In cases where a secure cover cannot be installed, install guardrails or suitable barricade at all open edges of the floor opening where a person could fall.
  • Ensure that guardrails are constructed in accordance with Section 9 of the Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations and SS 567: 2011 Code of Practice for Factory Layout – Safety, Health and Welfare Consideration.

Marked Floor Openings

  • Clearly mark all floor openings and place suitable hazard signs to warn workers of the presence of a hazardous opening.

Hazard Communication

  • Communicate the existence of floor openings and their corresponding risk control measures (e.g. secure floor cover, guard rail) to relevant stakeholders such as supervisors and workers who will be working in the vicinity. Communication should be thorough and made via a combination of in-house training and toolbox briefings. The pre-work brief should include the safe routes to access and egress from the work area.

Risk Assessment

Conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise when working near floor openings or fragile surfaces. The RA should cover, but not limited to, the following areas:

Location of Floor Openings and Fragile Surfaces

  • The existence of floor openings and fragile surfaces must be determined before work commencement. Identify floor openings and fragile surfaces through the examination of the floor plan drawings and site inspections. Workers should never be tasked to work on top of floor openings covered with non-load bearing materials.

Workplace Lighting

  • Work areas (including access and egress routes) should be sufficiently illuminated for workers to work safely. This is especially important for work areas with floor openings and fragile surfaces so that workers can see their work environment clearly and identify hazards easily.

Further Information

  1. Workplace Safety and Health Act
  2. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
  3. Workplace Safety and Health (Design for Safety) Regulations 2015
  4. Workplace Safety and Health (Construction) Regulations 2007
  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 for Working Safely at Heights
  8. Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines on Design for Safety
  9. SS 531: Code of Practice for Lighting of Work Places – Part 1: Indoor
  10. 1SS 567: 2011 Code of Practice for Factory Layout – Safety, Health and Welfare Consideration

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at 26 November 2019. 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.