Accident Advisory: Worker killed during lifting operation

26 Dec 2019

Ref No.: 261219 (1)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Accident Advisory: Worker killed during lifting operation

Ref: 1920063 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 7 November 2019

On 4 November 2019 around 8:40am, a group of workers was waiting for a bundle of metal scaffolding pipes to be lifted to their location within a construction worksite. As the pipes were being lowered by the tower crane, the jib of the crane suddenly buckled, causing the load and the hook block to drop and strike two of the workers in the group. One worker was killed and the other injured.


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

Safe Tower Crane Installation

  • Approved Crane Contractors must ensure that all crane components used are in good condition and that cranes are properly erected.
  • Tower cranes must be installed, altered, dismantled or repaired in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications or as laid out in the operational and maintenance manual.

Regular Equipment Inspection and Maintenance

  • Conduct pre-use checks of all lifting equipment before commencing any lifting operation to confirm that there are no defects.
  • Subject all lifting equipment to preventive maintenance (in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations) to ensure that they remain in good condition and ready-for-use.
  • All lifting equipment (including lifting appliances, lifting machines, hoists and lifting gears) used must be subjected to statutory regular inspections by an Authorised Examiner. In the case of a tower crane (a fixed crane), the required frequency of inspection is at least once every 12 months.

Lifting Plan

  • Establish and implement a lifting plan before commencing the lifting operation. This should include the load characteristics, details of the lifting equipment, rigging points and lifting method, safe working load, as well as information on the lifting team.
  • Safe lifting procedures should also be established to ensure that the lifting operation can be carried out safely.
  • A lifting supervisor should be present to ensure that the lifting operation is carried out as planned and that safe lifting procedures are adhered to.

Hazard Awareness and Risk Communication

  • Prior to work commencement, workers must be briefed (e.g. during toolbox meetings) on the possible on-site hazards and the safety precautions to be taken when performing lifting operations and working within a lifting zone.
  • Work coordination with and between the contractors who are present within the site is critical to ensure safe execution of the lifting operation.
  • Workers should be encouraged to report any unsafe work conditions observed or near-miss incidents witnessed to their supervisor so that these may be addressed before an accident occurs.

Risk Assessment

Employers, principals and contractors are required to conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to control any foreseeable risks that may arise during crane erection and lifting operations. The RA should cover, but not limited to, the following areas:

Crane Components

  • Defective crane components such as faulty safety devices can affect safe operation of the crane. The outcome can be catastrophic.

Incompatible Work Activities

  • Work activities within the immediate vicinity of the tower crane during its operation could be temporarily suspended while the lifting operation is in progress. This would help to minimise risks from incompatible work activities.

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 2007
  5. Workplace Safety and Health (Operation of Cranes) Regulations 2011  
  6. Ministry of Manpower Inspection Requirements for Statutory Lifting Equipment
  7. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
  8. Code of Practice on Safe Lifting Operations in the Workplaces
  9. Singapore Standard SS 343: 2014 Specification for Lifting Gear – Part 1: Wire rope slings
  10. Singapore Standard SS 343: 2014 Specification for Lifting Gear – Part 2: Hooks
  11. Singapore Standard SS 343: 2014 Specification for Lifting Gear – Part 3: Shackles 
  12. Singapore Standard SS 559: 2010 Code of Practice for Safe Use of Tower Cranes 
  13. Guidebook for Lifting Supervisors
  14. Worker’s Safety Handbook for Rigger and Signalman
  15. Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Branch Labour Department – Code of Practice for Safe Use of Tower Cranes

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at 11 December 2019. 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.