05 Jul 2019
Ref No.: 050719 (2)
Dear Valued ASPRI Members,
Accident Advisory: Worker fell while installing glass panels
Ref: 1920014 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 16 May 2019
On 9 May 2019 around 3.30pm, four workers were tasked with the installation of glass panels for a canopy on the second level balcony area of a private residence. During the said installation, one worker was standing on the uncompleted canopy at a height of about 3 metres while the remaining three workers were bringing up more glass panels from the first to the second level balcony. Subsequently, the three workers heard a loud sound and found the worker who was standing on the uncompleted canopy lying on the floor of the second level balcony, bleeding from his head. The worker was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene by attending paramedics.
Persons in control of similar workplaces and work activities, such as employers, principals and contractors, are advised to consider the following risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:
Safe means of access and stable work platform
- Consider the use of a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) with extendable structure and guard rails for safe access to a work location at height. Appropriate MEWP includes boom lifts, scissor lifts or vertical personnel platform where workers can safely work around the canopy structure while standing within the work platform without the need to engage in unsafe practices such as standing on the canopy structure or the glass panels.
- For work done below the canopy structure, custom-built tower scaffolds or step platforms may be used in place of ladders as they provide a more stable work surface. Ensure that the step platforms or tower scaffolds used are of an appropriate height for the task and that they are placed on firm and level ground at all times.
Fall prevention plan
Should work on the canopy structure be required (e.g. for installation of glass panels), establish a fall prevention plan (FPP) to address fall from heights hazards. The FPP should include but not limited to:
- Site-specific hazards and their respective risk controls;
- Safe work procedure and/or method statement; and
- Use of fall prevention and protection equipment such as personnel fall arrest system (PFAS). For effective protection from falls, the body harness must be attached to a secured anchorage point via a lanyard or self-retracting line (see Figure 2). The anchorage point may be in the form of a structural anchor (e.g. cast-in, expanding socket, through-type) or a temporary anchor device (e.g. door/ window jamb).
In the event that direct attachment to a secured anchorage point is not possible, appropriate lifelines should be provided so that the worker’s full body harness may be attached to the lifeline (see Figure 3).
Refer to the Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights for more information on FPP and PFAS.
Work involving roofing or canopy installation is a high-risk activity and the hired contractor should have:
- acquired the relevant competencies and qualification (e.g. Managing Work-at- Heights Course for Supervisors, Work at Height Course for Workers) in preparation for work at height.
- knowledge of the specific type of canopy to be installed, the hazards of the work activity as well as the associated risks and range of available risk controls including equipment and tools that will allow the work to be carried out safely.
- Provide on-site supervision to ensure that the PFAS is correctly applied and that the work is carried out in accordance with the safe work procedure. Supervisors should monitor the site for safety lapses (e.g. unsafe condition or unsafe act) especially during the different stages of work so that such lapses may be addressed before an accident occurs.
Conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise during work at height. The RA should address, but not limited to:
- A permit-to-work system is required for any work involving work at height where a person could fall from a height of more than 3 metres. Only when the site-specific risks have been assessed and the risk controls put in placed can the work at height be allowed to proceed.
Safe work method
- The work method adopted should account for site-specific risks. For example, workers should not stand on the canopy if it is not feasible to install a PFAS or if there is insufficient clearance height for fall arrest. In such a case, other ways of accessing the work location should be explored (e.g. working under the canopy using a step platform or above the canopy via a boom lift).
- Only workers who are trained for work at height may be assigned to off-the- ground canopy installation work.
- Advise workers to report to their supervisor if they are on medication, feeling unwell, or experiencing severe fatigue.
- Workplace Safety and Health Act
- Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
- Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations
- Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013
- Workplace Safety and Health (Scaffold) Regulations 2011
- Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
- Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights
- Singapore Standard SS 528: 2006 (2014) Specification for Personal Fall-arrest Systems Parts 1 to 6
- Singapore Standard SS 570: 2011 Specification for Personal Protective Equipment for Protection against Falls from a Height – Single Point Anchor Devices and Flexible Horizontal Lifeline Systems
- MOM’s WSH Circular: Safe Work at Heights at Completed Buildings
- WSH Guidelines for Working Safely on Roofs
- WSH Guidelines on Personal Protective Equipment for Work at Heights
- WSH Guidelines on Anchorage, Lifelines and Temporary Edge Protection Systems
- WSH Council’s Work at Heights Toolkit for Supervisors
- WSH Council’s Case Studies on Accidents Involving Work at Heights
- WSH Council’s Activity Based Checklist for Working Safely at Heights
- WSH Council’s Activity Based Checklist for Working on Rooftops
- 6 Basic Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Rules for Working at Heights
- WSH Council’s Take Time to Take Care (Working at Heights) Video
Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at
17 June 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 is not to be construed as implying any liability to any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations under the law.