x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Two held in deaths of cradle workers

A contractor and subcontractor overseeing construction of a tower where two workers fell to their deaths last week are detained and referred to the Public Prosecution.

DUBAI // A contractor and subcontractor overseeing construction of a tower where two workers fell to their deaths last week were detained and referred to Public Prosecution yesterday.

The workers, aged 24 and 27, died just 30 minutes before the end of their shift when the cradle in which they were working crashed to the ground from the 27th floor.

Colonel Ali Ghanem, the director of Bur Dubai Police Station, said the detained contractors would face charges of negligence leading to death.

"The scaffolding would only have collapsed if health and safety regulations were not followed, but the exact cause is yet to be determined by the Dubai Municipality report," said Col Ghanem.

Col Ghanem was unable to say which of the contractors and subcontractors involved in the development had been detained.

Construction work was halted yesterday to allow police to carry out their investigation. "It was a mechanical failure; the boom is intact," said a source at the building site who witnessed the accident.

"The entire platform or cradle fell. The men were wearing safety belts and helmets but it came crashing down. They did not stand a chance."

The source said the workers had been carrying out preparatory work required for the installation of glass panels on the building's facade.

"There was no glass in the cradle with the men. They were not carrying any glass equipment with them," the official said. A signboard with the words "Work Safely. Think Safety. Safety First," was propped up in one corner of the site, known as Plots 12 and 13 of the Burj Dubai Development.

Yesterday, the workers sat idle in groups around the base of the two towers, which are centrally located in the Emaar Downtown area, on Emaar Boulevard opposite the Dubai Mall and Burj Khalifa.

"Everyone wants to know how the jhula [Hindi for swing or cradle] fell," said one labourer. "The capacity of the cradle is 220kg and there were just two people in it, so why did it crash?"

The workers said they were not afraid to get back to work, but many wondered about the family of the two men who lost their lives.

"This is our job. Sometimes it is dangerous," shrugged one labourer. "But it's good the police are checking; at least other workers will be safe. We keep thinking of the families of those two men. How many children did they have? What will they do now?"

It is not known when the workers' bodies will be released to their families. An official with Samsung-Baytur JV said they were working with authorities to release the bodies pending the investigation.  Samsung C&T Corporation, the South Korean half of the Samsung-Baytur JV joint venture overseeing the project, made no official comment. Baytur, the Turkish half of the joint venture, could not be reached.

Emaar, on whose development the project is located, last week offered their condolences to the families.

* The National, with additional reporting by Carol Huang