x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Fatal scaffolding accident the result of more than 20 violations: report

Substandard equipment, improper supervision, negligence and strong winds were among the causes of an accident at a construction site last month.

ABU DHABI // A scaffolding accident that killed a labourer on a construction site last month was caused by substandard equipment, improper supervision, negligence and strong winds.
Municipal inspectors who investigated the accident noted more than 20 offences at the site near the Euro Hotel on Muroor Road. Their report, issued by the municipality, states several times that staffing was inadequate because work was carried out on a Friday.
Five men fell when the incorrectly erected scaffolding collapsed at about 10.30am on January 20. An Indian worker standing below the structure was killed because he “was not able to run/move out from his present location due to abrupt and sudden collapse of scaffolding”, the report says.
Others were able to move before the scaffolding, in a small alley between two 12-storey residential buildings, fell.
The project’s main contractor, Al Diyar, broke several municipal health and safety regulations, including not having an emergency response plan and not performing regular equipment inspections.
The direct causes of the accident, as noted in the report, include “lack of braces and support for scaffolding, congested space in between the two buildings”, and unbalanced loads on the scaffolding.
The scaffolding had been used by “a huge number of workers” from Al Diyar and subcontracting companies and was not properly maintained.
The head of safety for the company was on annual leave and no other safety officer was available at the site the day of the accident. The report says the root causes of the accident were “lack of proper supervision and monitoring” and “inappropriate communication of standards and relevant procedures”.
Because workers were at the site on a Friday, no designated safety officer or other manager was supervising the work. In addition, the scaffolding did not undergo a safety inspection.
Calls to Al Diyar were not returned. The site’s project manager refused to comment.
Construction on the site has not resumed, but it is not known if the company has been fined or otherwise penalised.
The municipality ordered the contractor to prepare preventive maintenance and risk-assessment plans. Al Diyar must also introduce safety talks for workers before the start of their work day, especially “if the job to be done is scheduled on a rest day”.
Preventive-action orders included incorporating a comprehensive inspection plan and providing training to workers.
All building projects must be accompanied by a comprehensive safety plan in order to receive a building permit. More than 20 inspectors visit sites daily to ensure the safety plans are followed.
Ten people died in 29 construction accidents on building sites in the capital last year, the first year data was collected for a full 12 months.
Construction workers falling, and falling objects, were common causes of accidents.

jthomas@thenational.ae