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Set up Commission of Inquiry to probe into warehouse collapse incident - CAP

Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 01:24 PM

GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) is shocked and disappointed by yet another building under construction collapse incident that occurred here on Tuesday night.

In the incident, a logistics warehouse still under construction in Batu Maung near here collapsed, claiming the lives of three Bangladeshi construction workers and leaving another two seriously injured.

CAP's president, Mohideen Abdul Kader, said that a Commission of Inquiry should be immediately established to investigate this incident.

"We call on the Penang Island City Council (MBPP), the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to thoroughly investigate the incident and take strict action against those responsible for the accident.

"Since the site is close to the beach, consisting of sand and gravel, any structure built in the area needs to ensure it is completely safe by taking into account all safety measures, especially geological studies.

"This matter should be seriously looked into since it involves many parties, especially the lives of workers. Not to mention that this accident also caused workers to lose their lives and suffer serious injuries," he said today.

Given the high statistics of deaths in occupational accidents, Mohideen emphasised that safety for workers must be a priority.

According to DOSH, 6,793 occupational accidents were investigated in Malaysia in 2020. Of that number, there were 193 deaths and 256 permanent disabilities recorded that year involving foreign workers.

Mohideen said the relevant authorities needed to strictly and continuously enforce the relevant laws to ensure that all safety measures at the construction site have been complied with.

"Precautions should be taken seriously when working in dangerous situations. Strong actions taken can send a message to construction companies that the law must be obeyed at all times. It corresponds to the 'Safety First' notice that is often displayed on construction sites.

"The owner of the premises must be responsible for the accident that occurs.

"Placing this notice does not absolve the construction industry from liability for injury and death.

"Likewise, this notice does not exempt DOSH from ensuring that all safety measures are followed," he added.

Mohideen pointed out that in two other major cases in Penang - the collapse of scaffolding on Penang's Second Bridge and the collapse of wall fins in a 21-storey building - the Commission of Inquiry established by the Penang government found incompetence and negligence.

"Every time an accident happens, we will wonder why it happened. Was it just an accident or did it happen due to negligence? If it happens due to negligence, then who is to blame? The developers, contractors, construction workers, or the authorities themselves?

"We urge the authorities to carry out a thorough and comprehensive investigation to identify the cause of the accident.

"Only by strictly and continuously enforcing the law will make those responsible in the construction industry as well as the relevant authorities more compliant with the relevant laws," he said.

He said the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which is the agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses, also needed to do more to promote occupational safety and health.

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