Safer road construction sites crucial

Relevant parties must learn from the hard lesson and proactively put preventive safety measures in place


THE government, contractors and employers of transporting vehicle drivers should take shared responsibility in preventing any incident at construction sites along highways in light of the recent mishap at the Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway (SUKE).

Head of Road Safety Research Centre at Universiti Putra Malaysia Assoc Prof Dr Law Teik Hua said the bridge collapse accident, which caused the deaths of two road users and three seriously injured, was not a simple case as it involved road and construction safety.

He said the relevant parties should bear the responsibilities and must learn from the hard lesson and proactively put preventive safety measures in place to avoid such incidents from happening again.

Last year saw an incident of parapet concrete slab falling, crashing onto a car and injuring the driver, also at SUKE.

“It is hoped that policymakers can learn and find corrective measures. Road users are less responsible because they hardly can do anything. It should be a shared responsibility between the government, contractor and employers of the lorry driver,” Law told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Malaysia has seen many incidents at construction sites on highways and elsewhere — notable ones included the collapse of a launching gantry at a Mass Rapid Transit construction site in Jalan Jinjang in 2018, the collapse of a crane boom at a construction site of an apartment in Kampung Baru in 2017, the collapse of an under-construction pedestrian bridge near Mid Valley Megamall in 2016 — which seemed to be an annual recurrent theme.

Law said the government and its agencies should review safety standard operating procedures (SOPs) from time to time and ensure enforcement is carried out.

For contractors, he said the latest incident raised calls on the need for more safety buffers created around construction sites and their structures.

He said companies would need to be ready to spend more on safety measures to create the buffers, for instance, by having a “dummy structure” as a protection to the primary structure and even if it is hit, the impact is reduced, thus reducing injury and preventing fatality.

For employers of lorry drivers, he said they must ensure that the staff are well trained and equipped with safety knowledge, while the company puts in place the right SOPs.

He said good companies have proper mechanisms, for instance, setting the type of vehicle to be used and the routes to be taken, while other firms may not have put in place such controls — that makes a difference.

It was reported that the trailer driver that crashed into the under-construction flyover along SUKE last week tested positive for drugs.

Lawyer Wan Azmir Wan Majid said some cases cited the government or government agency as liable because it was a breach of a statutory duty imposed on the government agency.

He said some cases cited the contractor being an employee of the government or government agency, transferring liability towards the government agency.

He also said a contractor may be liable if in breach of safety precautions that have been prescribed by the government agency.

“The cause of action against the government is limited to a time frame of three years. The fact-finding process may also be lengthy as disclosures by the government agency may be hampered by the government process,” Wan Azmir told TMR.

Read our previous report here

Make public investigation results of SUKE incident – Lee Lam Thye