Sky-high safety

Sky-high safety
HOOKING UP: (Right) Mr Zulkarnain Sapihe (in blue helmet) ensuring a worker’s harness is secured and anchored to a safety rope before he climbs the scaffolding.

Stern-faced and eagle-eyed, he prowls the construction site.

As soon as he spots a safety breach, Mr Zulkarnain Sapihe, 32, swoops in to discipline the offending worker.

Punishment could come in the form of a scolding, an official warning, retraining or even a ban from the worksite of The Altez, a 62-storey condominium in Tanjong Pagar being built by construction firm Woh Hup.

Though, as Woh Hup's principal workplace safety, health and environmental officer, Mr Zulkarnain may be viewed as the "bad guy", he does not mind.

Especially not with the recent spate of accidents at other sites, with at least 13 construction workers injured or killed over the past two weeks.

The New Paper followed Mr Zulkarnain, who manages a team of about 20 safety supervisors at the site, as he carried out his rounds at The Altez.

There are about 500 workers on site.

During his patrol, he meticulously checked if workers were wearing safety harnesses and followed safety procedures.

For instance, he would ensure that workers secured their harnesses to nearby safety ropes while climbing the scaffolding.

"Some workers take shortcuts, go over barricades when they're not supposed to, or don't anchor their harnesses.

It's my job to come down hard on these workers.

"It's okay if some of them don't appreciate what I do. What's most important is that every worker goes home safe," said Mr Zulkarnain, who has been in this line since 2005.

It was a sentiment shared by site manager Adrian Ong, 35.

"There are many things that can go wrong at a construction site. Our job is to make sure that workers are able to work in a safe environment.

"It's the only way we've managed to avoid any fatalities since we started work in 2010."

Construction worker Natechi Appan Vadivel, 33, understands the need for such rigorous measures.

"I know this is a dangerous job, especially for me as I deal with scaffoldings," said Mr Vadivel, who has a wife and a year-old son back in India.

"My family depend on me. If anything were to happen to me, they will suffer. So I have to take care of myself and follow the safety procedures."


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