Socso to probe employer


Five in building collapse not registered, boss to face legal action

GEORGE TOWN: Five out of the nine Bangladeshi workers involved in the construction mishap in Batu Maung near here were not registered with the Social Security Organisation (Socso), says V. Sivakumar.

The Human Resources Minister said Socso would initiate legal action against the employer.

He said failure to register employees with Socso was a contravention of Section 6 of the Employees’ Social Security Act 1969 (Act 4).

He added that according to Section 94 of the Act, employers who fail to register and contribute for foreign workers can be prosecuted.

Sivakumar said those found guilty could face a fine of RM10,000, two years in jail or both, upon conviction.

“The ministry will not compromise with employers who do not register their foreign workers and pay for their contributions.

“This is denying their rights to social protection,” said Sivakumar, who was quoted in a statement released by Socso yesterday.

On Tuesday, the building under construction in Batu Maung collapsed at about 9.50pm, with nine Bangladeshi workers said to be working then.

Slow and steady: Search and rescue personnel overseeing the removal of one of the concrete beams at the site of the building collapse in Batu Maung, Penang.­ ­— ZHAFARAN NASIB/The StarSlow and steady: Search and rescue personnel overseeing the removal of one of the concrete beams at the site of the building collapse in Batu Maung, Penang.­ ­— ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Three of them – Md Ahed Ali, 42, Mohamad Mokaddes Ali, 46, and Mohammad Sayful Islam, 29 – were killed in the tragedy.

Two others, Md Uzzal Mridha, 30, and Md Razu Ahamad, 33, were seriously injured and still warded at Hospital Penang.

Another four workers, who were initially thought to be pinned under the rubble, managed to escape to safety.

Sivakumar said all foreign workers – including those who serve as labourers in the construction sector – are required to register and contribute to Socso effective Jan 1, 2020.

On the four Bangladeshi workers who were registered with Socso, Sivakumar said two of them died in the tragedy while the other two were warded at the hospital.

He said records have shown that while they were registered with Socso, no contributions were made by the employers from 2020 to July 2023.

“The other foreign worker who died had no record of Socso registration and contribution.

“The ministry, through Socso, is still actively conducting a review with the Fire and Rescue Department, the Bangladesh High Commission here and other related agencies over the matter,” it said.

It was reported that in March last year, Titijaya Land Bhd and DHL Supply Chain (M) Sdn signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to develop the logistics complex in Bayan Lepas.

It will consist of an office, automatic rack systems, warehouse and various utilities.

Penang health committee chairman Daniel Gooi Zi Sen said arrangements have been made for the two injured workers to undergo surgery at Hospital Penang.

He said one of them fractured his nose while another suffered multiple body fractures.

On the four Bangladeshi workers who were initially thought to be pinned under the rubble, Balik Pulau OCPD Supt Kamarul Rizal Jenal said they had been released after being held for questioning on Wednesday.

“They fled the scene because they were scared and in shock. They didn’t do anything wrong.

“We picked them up for questioning to help with the investigation. They were released on the same day,” said Supt Kamarul yesterday.

Alliance for a Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the tragedy showed why safety measures are a must in any construction site.

He said the contractor involved in the project must be responsible for ensuring the safety of workers.

He said workplace accidents happen because safety issues are overlooked, adding that there are also human factors such as negligence, fatigue, stress and lack of training.

“Others are environmental factors such as poor lighting, ventilation and housekeeping,” he said.

He added that the highest number of occupational injuries was recorded in 2013 (43,795 cases), followed by 2017 (42,513) and 2012 (41,504).

Lee said during the peak of Covid-19 in 2020, a total of 32,674 cases of occupational injuries were recorded.

In terms of sectors, the manufacturing sector recorded the highest with 5,244 cases of occupational injuries last year.

This was followed by services (1,035), transport, storage and communication (266), agriculture, forestry and fishing (256), finance, insurance and business services (99), mining and quarrying (77), utilities (74), wholesale, retail and trade (44), construction (29) as well as hotels and restaurants (19).

He said the Statistics Department found that more than four-fifths (84.2%) of the occupational injury cases last year involved men compared with only 15.8% of female workers.

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Construction Mishap , Batu Maung

   

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