Securing safety with audits

MBPJ was the first to set up a safety audit unit in Selangor. — Photo courtesy of MBPJ

LOCAL authorities in Selangor must work with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) to identify and correct weaknesses in workplace safety, especially at construction sites.

Selangor local government, public transportation and new village development committee chairman Ng Sze Han said both local councils and CIDB should play complementary roles.

“Compliance to workplace safety at construction sites is not solely the responsibility of locals council but comes under CIDB.

“Local councils in Selangor need to coordinate with CIDB to determine whether approved project plans are adhered to, ” he told StarMetro.

CIDB was established to advise the Federal and state governments, as well as other stakeholders, on matters affecting or connected with the construction industry including safety management.

Ng said that he had discussed the issue of safety audits with heads of all local authorities at the Selangor Standing Committee meeting earlier this month.

“I told them to collaborate with CIDB to assess and identify potential hazards and suggest appropriate construction site safety barriers for maximum protection.”He noted that the only local authority in peninsular Malaysia with a dedicated safety audit unit was Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ).

Other local councils, he said, referred to their engineering and building departments staff that oversaw safety aspects including compliance with building plans.

“Each local council has its own mechanism to handle safety aspects and draws on expertise from various departments, but it will be much better to have a dedicated unit to focus on such matters, ” he stressed.

Pioneering unit

MBPJ Safety Audit Unit head Nazihah Jaafar said an audit on construction sites, be it a council or private project, was crucial to keep people safe and mitigate risks.

“MBPJ saw the importance of a safety audit unit after an accident occurred in 2016, where an 85-year-old man who was accompanied by his maid on an errand, drove his car into a 13m sewage manhole that was under construction in Section 17, Petaling Jaya, ” she said.

Following the incident, former Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain mooted the idea for a safety audit unit to address any oversight.

Nazihah said the unit had four staff who get input and advice from professionals in other MBPJ departments as well as CIDB.

“Our audit goes further than the prescribed checklist and a project site must pass our occupational safety, health and environmental criteria.

“From the start, we tell the contractors and all involved that the audit is to track whether the project meets safety objectives as well as to gather data for continuous improvement, ” she explained.

Act requirementsCIDB Malaysia, Selangor branch manager Muhamad Faiz Musa said that as a regulatory body and custodian of the local construction industry, it was always willing to offer its expertise to local councils in Selangor.

The CIDB Act (Amendment 2011) involves enhancing construction quality through registration of construction workers as well as skills and competency certification.

“The Act is also to ensure compliance with standards, besides contractors and site managers’ responsibilities include ensuring the safety of buildings or roads during or after construction work.”

Faiz said having a separate unit would help local councils oversee safety aspects in their own projects and gain a better understanding of private projects where a third party was involved.

“Our board encourages all local councils to form the unit as we continue to see rapid development in Selangor, ” he added.

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