Worker struck by sheet pile

22 Apr 2019

Ref No.: 220419 (1)
UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Worker struck by sheet pile

Ref: 1819094 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 13 March 2019

On 9 March 2019 around 8.30am, a sheet pile was being lifted by a crawler crane when it dislodged from its lifting clamp and fell, hitting a worker who was working nearby. The worker was pronounced dead at the scene by attending paramedics.


Stakeholders 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 lifting operation

  • Establish a lifting plan to ensure that the lifting operation can be carried out safely. The lifting plan should include key information relating to the lifting works such as the details of the load, lifting equipment and lifting gears used, sketch of the lifting zone (including the initial and final location of the load and its path of travel), lifting sequence and personnel involved.
  • Demarcate the lifting zone on-site to prevent unauthorised personnel from entering the zone while the lifting operation is in progress.
  • Ensure that the load is secured and stable throughout the lifting operation.
  • Ensure a lifting supervisor is on-site to coordinate and supervise the lifting operation in accordance to the lifting plan.

Equipment inspection and maintenance

  • All lifting equipment such as machines, gears and appliances must be inspected, tested and certified safe for use by an Authorised Examiner (AE) at regular intervals (at least once a year) or as determined by the AE.
  • Conduct regular visual checks on the lifting machine (the crawler crane in this case) and all lifting gears and appliances (e.g. hooks and shackles, chain slings, lifting clamps) to ensure that they are in good working condition and fit for use.
  • Subject all lifting equipment to periodic preventive maintenance (frequency of maintenance to be based on the manufacturer’s recommendation) to ensure proper functioning.
  • Replace any defective lifting machine component or lifting gear immediately.

Safe work procedure

  • Establish and implement safe work procedures for the clamping, lifting and release of sheet piles. Workers must be familiar with the use of lifting clamps* and understand the consequences of an accidental release.
  • Keep loads low to the ground and stay out of the “drop-zone”. In this case, the sheet pile may fall on its edge before falling to one side.

    * Where clamps have quick-release mechanisms, contractors are advised to incorporate interlock switch or auto-lock feature to prevent accidental dislodgement.

Effective communication

  • Supervisors may use the daily toolbox meeting to communicate the lifting plan, safe work procedures and other safety and health matters. Such toolbox meetings should be conducted prior to work commencement and before shift handover.
  • Workers should be briefed on all possible hazards and risks that they could encounter when working on-site.


Conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise during lifting operations. The RA should address, but is not limited to, the following areas:

Lifting operations

  • Recognise hazards associated with accidental dislodge caused by rubbing (e.g. wire rope rubbed against the shackle pin causing it to roll out of position) and entanglement (with other objects) and implement the necessary controls to prevent dislodgement.

Lifting attachments

  • Identify possible hazards associated with the use of special lifting attachments such as lifting clamps (e.g. faulty lifting clamps, clamping that is not secured, incorrect positioning of clamp). Implement measures such as additional loadsupports to minimise the risk of the load dropping.

Concurrent work activities

  • Stop or reschedule any concurrent work that is taking place with the lifting operation, if that work is deemed inappropriate or unsafe. Any conflicting or incompatible work should be avoided to protect workers from the hazards posed by a lifting operation.


  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 (Construction) Regulations 2007
  5. Workplace Safety and Health (Operation of Cranes) Regulations 2011
  6. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
  7. Code of Practice on Safe Lifting Operations in the Workplaces
  8. SS 343: 2014 Specification for Lifting Gear – Part 1: Wire rope slings, Part 2: Hooks, Part 3: Shackles
  9. SS 536: 2008 Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Mobile cranes
  10. SS 595: 2014 Steel Wire Ropes for Hoisting – Part 3: Code of practice for the care, inspection and maintenance of steel wire ropes for hoisting
  11. WSH Council’s Guidebook for Lifting Supervisors
  12. Worker’s Safety Handbook for Crane Operator
  13. WSH Council’s Workers’ Safety Handbook for Rigger and Signalman
  14. WSH Council’s Guide to Effective Toolbox Meeting
  15. WSH Council’s 6 Basic WSH Rules for Lifting Operations

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at
08 April 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