When Chief of Technical Services, CapitaLand Limited, Anthony Seah, introduced the inaugural Safety 1 st @ CapitaLand talk, he did not expound the safety message with statistics, scientific or technical details. Instead, he persuaded with a charmingly poetic analogy.
“Safety is like a demure lady. She pines to be with you forever, but she won't ask. You have to take the initiative. Then, she will test you with two questions: how long will this marriage last? You must say: forever. Then, how will you treat her in the marriage? You should say: we are CapitaLand gentlemen, ladies first, so you go ahead of us,” he notes eloquently.
Indeed, safety comes first at CapitaLand. That is why it initiated the Safety 1 st @ CapitaLand talks, inviting industry experts to share their safety processes and practices.
Lesson 1: Think Safety from the Start
Audrey Perez, QSE and Maintenance Director of Dragages Singapore gave insights into the company’s experience in Design for Safety with the construction of the Singapore Sports Hub.
Design for Safety refers to incorporating safety into a building as early as at the design stage. The concept is still relatively new in Singapore and the Singapore Sports Hub is one of the pioneer projects to adopt this approach to workplace and building safety.
“We have to ensure that the building is safe at construction, to use, to demolition,” says Ms Perez. “We have a safety co-ordinator who talks to the developer, designers and everyone involved at every stage of the construction to get them to understand and identify risks and design around them.”
Lesson 2: Safety is an Investment for the Future
Sometimes, safety means extra costs but is an investment for the future. For instance, Dragages Singapore made sure there were enough exits on the one-kilometer wide perimeter of the Singapore Sports Hub’s dome roof to ensure that maintenance personnel could quickly leave the area in the event of flashfloods.
One of the participants, Lim Eng Hwee, Senior Manager, Cost and Contracts (Residential), CapitaLand Singapore, felt it was important to hear the perspectives of different stakeholders,
“It is refreshing to hear from the (main) contractors. It helps us when we craft policies that affect them,” he says. “Design for Safety is certainly something we have embraced.”
Lesson 3: Creativity in the Small Things can Overcome Design Challenges
The next speaker, Senior Workplace Safety, Health and Environment Officer, Woh Hup Pte Ltd, Rong Jing Xiang, shared about the innovations his company came up with to ensure safety at the workplace in Singapore as well as overseas. Woh Hup has fabricated a number of devices to ensure the safety of its workers at construction sites.
At CapitaLand's d’Leedon, Woh Hup Pte Ltd’s innovations helped to bridge the safety gap.
“Every six stories, the structure changes angles to form a twisting design, resulting in gaps between the building and safety screens,” explains Mr Rong. Woh Hup created foldable staircases to close up the gaps, coupled with internal lift core walls fall protection and the auto refuse chute system to minimise risk to workers at site.
Lesson 4: Innovate to Create Safeguards
Another interesting innovation shared was the award-winning Auto Refuse Chute System developed for d’Leedon called the Full-stop.
Rong explained that workers get rid of debris through the disposal point at each floor into the refuse house. Because they can’t tell when the refuse house is full, they continue to shove things in till the chute collapses.
Woh Hup Pte Ltd created an automated system which uses infra red light. When the debris piles to a level where it blocks the light, all doors at the disposal points at all levels will automatically close.
“This saves time because we don’t have to manually close all the doors floor by floor to prevent workers from throwing more debris into an already full refuse house.”
On what was shared, one of the participants, Adrian Ting, Senior Manager, Engineering Design and Technical Services, CapitaMalls Asia, says, “It is good to know that (main) contractors are also thinking out-of-the-box about safety.”
Lesson 5: Learn the Correct Use of Your Equipment
Jonathan Wan, President of Access and Scaffold Industry Association (A.S.I.A) came with props and personnel to demonstrate his points on working safely at height.
He warned of the dangers of mis-using the A-frame aluminium ladder and gave practical demonstration on how to check that a ladder has all its parts before commencement of work. Another tip was on how to wear a proper tool belt for easy access to equipment, instead of "carrying everything in a pail".
Using photos, Wan shared about the things to watch out for in tower scaffolds, commonly used in buildings, e.g. for setting up the Christmas decorations. Good practices include having floor boards at each level with internal access to climb to another level, instead of having the worker climb outside at the scaffold.
Lesson 6: Realise the Myths About Harnesses
Wan also debunked the myth that full body harnesses equals safety from falls.
Common mistakes including securing safety lines to scaffolding/railings instead of designated anchor points. Scaffoldings/railings made of aluminium and not meant to hold the weight of a human body. Wan showed a bent aluminium railing from a demonstration made a few days earlier, which was resulted from the impact of a dummy secured to the railing.
He cautioned “If the fall doesn’t kill you, the scaffolding might topple on top of you".
“Harnesses should also have front attachments in addition to the rear ones so that a person can easily adjust it. Also, keep the lanyard short. The idea is to restraint travel, keeping the person within the safety of the basket (scissors/boom lift) or gondola.”
It is heartening to know that all these different parties have given safety such high priority because, as Anthony Seah reminded everyone, in real estate the mantra is “location, location, location” but when it comes to safety, it is “people, people, people”.
The safety of people, at its work sites are of paramount importance to CapitaLand, and it was with this in mind as Anthony rallied the participants, “The stewardship to conduct an operation, and advance a safe working environment for ourselves, for others and for the organisation must lie squarely on each and every one of us. So that our families can expect to greet us at the end of the day, for many years to come.”