Sunday, 16 July 2017

Highway viaduct structure under construction collapses at Pan-Island Expressway worksite

Safety review at all road, rail sites after viaduct collapse kills 1, injures 10
Work at Upper Changi Road East suspended after accident leaves 1 worker dead, 10 injured
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2017

Work at all public road and rail worksites was suspended for half a day yesterday after part of a new viaduct that was being built collapsed early in the morning, killing one worker and injuring 10.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) used this "timeout" to review safety measures at all its rail and road projects all morning, before work resumed at 1pm.

Work remains suspended, however, at the $94.6 million project to build the viaduct in Upper Changi Road East, where a portion of the structure collapsed in the early hours of yesterday morning. The Building and Construction Authority revoked the permit for works at the project as the authorities conducted their investigations.

The project had been awarded to Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors, which was expected to complete it by the first quarter of 2020.

Shares of the mainboard-listed OKP crashed 8 per cent in the wake of the accident, before trading was halted at 10.15am.

OKP has been pulled up for safety lapses previously, and was blacklisted between January and April this year.

The latest accident took place at around 3.30am, when a portion of the structure collapsed. Eleven workers who had been working on it fell from a height of around 4m.

Preliminary investigations by the LTA showed that corbels - structures put in place to support the weight of precast beams between two sections - had collapsed.

A 31-year-old Chinese national was pronounced dead at the scene, while 10 others were taken to Changi General Hospital. Seven remained warded, with two in intensive care, while three were discharged after treatment.

OKP, which has been in construction since the 1960s, said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange that it was "deeply saddened" by the accident. It said it would "assist and cooperate fully with the authorities in their investigations".

Just three days earlier, OKP was fined $250,000 in connection with another incident on Sept 22, 2015. Four workers fell 6.4m after a section of the working platform they were standing on - under a flyover being constructed in Yio Chu Kang - became dislodged.

Between January and April this year, OKP was put on a Ministry of Manpower blacklist after receiving 25 demerit points for lapses.

Yesterday's incident brought the number of reported worksite fatalities to 20 this year. There were 66 fatalities last year.

Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng said yesterday's incident was very unfortunate, and he was "saddened" by it.

Speaking on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the ninth Asean Schools Games yesterday, Mr Ng, who is also Minister for Education (Schools), said: "I have told LTA to extend the best assistance we can to the workers who are injured.

"Investigations are ongoing, the LTA is looking into what has happened together with the Ministry of Manpower, and we will get to the root of the causes so that we can learn the lessons to prevent another such incident from happening."

Meanwhile, the LTA is building a temporary road alongside the slip road below the viaduct which had been made impassable by debris after the collapse.

This is so that SBS Transit's bus service 24, which had been diverted because of the incident, can revert to its original route.

LTA added that it will carry out a thorough safety and design review of the temporary road before opening it for public use by noon today.

Or Kim Peow (OKP) Holdings' shares hit after accident at unit's worksite
Subsidiary was found guilty of safety breach in a 2015 worksite accident just three days before viaduct collapse
By Ng Jun Sen, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2017

Or Kim Peow (OKP) Holdings' shares had soared some 45 per cent this year before losing 8 per cent yesterday to 39.5 cents before trading was halted less than six hours after the collapse of a structure at its subsidiary's Upper Changi Road East viaduct project site yesterday morning.

Brokerage KGI Securities last month had called the counter a "buy" given that OKP was in a good position to bid for contracts under the North-South Corridor project as it is a Building and Construction Authority-registered Grade 1 civil engineering contractor. Contractors with such a grading are not limited to project cost when bidding for public-sector civil engineering projects.

Yesterday's accident was the latest involving the firm's wholly owned subsidiary, OKP Contractors, which was found guilty of a 2015 safety breach, just three days before the structure collapsed.

In that case, one worker had died, while three others were injured after they fell more than 6m from a dislodged platform.

The firm failed to ensure the working platform erected by the company was safe for use. Mr Chan Yew Kwong, Ministry of Manpower's (MOM) director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said of the firm then: "This is a clear case of a company that does not take workplace safety seriously.

"MOM will not hesitate to take punitive actions on companies and individuals who knowingly put workers at risk. There is no excuse for companies who fail to take ownership of workplace safety."

Before that incident, MOM had also hit the firm with 25 demerit points and blacklisted it from January to April this year, when it was barred from employing foreign workers. In its statement, OKP's group managing director, Mr Or Toh Wat, said it "deeply regrets" the accident.

The company had won the $94.6 million tender in November 2015 to construct a one-way, two-lane viaduct from the Tampines Expressway to the Pan-Island Expressway and Upper Changi Road East. Together with project consultants CPG Consultants, OKP was expected to complete the viaduct and the surrounding road works in early 2020.

As the client, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) maintains a site office at the worksite. Its officers were present when the accident happened.

According to LTA's website, OKP and CPG beat three other groups which had tendered bids ranging from $129.7 million to $193.7 million, for the project, two months after the fatal incident in 2015.

In 2015, LTA also awarded OKP two contracts worth $143.8 million to build more than 200km of new sheltered walkways around key public transport nodes by 2018.

OKP has an existing net construction order book of $306.1 million, excluding two new contracts worth $20.5 million awarded last month.

Founded by the Or family 50 years ago, OKP's board of directors include former minister of state for national development, communications and information technology John Chen Seow Phun, senior director of corporate law firm Niru & Co Nirumalan V. Kanapathi Pillai, and former president of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore Tan Boen Eng.

Said Mr Or: "The (OKP board of directors) is deeply saddened by this unfortunate incident and wishes to express the company's heartfelt sympathies to the families of the deceased and others injured in the incident. Meanwhile, the group will ensure that the needs of the affected workers are fully taken care of."

The firm did not comment on its recent track record when asked.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has instructed the project's qualified person (QP), from CPG, to inspect the remaining supporting structures at the viaduct. A QP is someone registered as either an architect or an engineer with the Board of Architects or Professional Engineers Board respectively. CPG declined to elaborate on the incident, but said it is "working closely with the relevant authorities to carry out detailed investigations".

BCA has also revoked the permit for the construction works, and "will be investigating the cause of the incident".

"As a safety precaution, the adjacent girders will be propped and supported," it said in a statement. "Nevertheless, we noted that the rest of the constructed viaducts are not above any public roads and will not pose a risk to the public."

As regulators of building and workplace safety, inspectors from BCA and MOM conduct spot checks from time to time.

Said an MOM spokesman: "MOM has issued a full stop-work order and is currently investigating the situation. MOM is also working with the Migrant Workers' Centre and the employer to render assistance to the workers and their families."

LTA lifted a "safety timeout" at all road and rail construction sites under the authority at 1pm yesterday following the accident.

PIE work site collapse: Workers were nearly finished with task
They fell 4m to the ground when beam on which they were standing collapsed
By Zaihan Mohamed Yusof, Melissa Lin and Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2017

It was the wee hours of the morning and the workers were almost done with casting the deck of a new viaduct using cement.

They were supposed to pour 60 cubic m of cement onto a slab and had just 10 cubic m to go when the beam they were standing on collapsed, sending them falling 4m to the ground.

The incident at 3.30am yesterday at a viaduct in Upper Changi Road East left Chinese national Chen Yinchuan, 31, dead and 10 others injured. The workers were employed by subcontractors of construction firm OKP Contractors. One of the injured workers was from Transit- Mixed Concrete, while the other 10 workers were from Tongda Construction & Engineering.

An employee of Tongda, who declined to be named, told The Straits Times at its Ubi office: "According to my boss, they had almost finished. There was just another 10 cubic m (of cement) to go."

Mr Chen had arrived in Singapore for work in April this year. Records showed that he had been certified "competent" after he was assessed on April 24 for a workers' construction safety orientation course.

The Tongda employee repeatedly asked about the condition of the other workers, most of whom are believed to be in their early 20s.

"Is everyone okay?" the employee asked. "I am concerned about the workers right now because I am quite close with the supervisor who is now in ICU (intensive care unit)."

The injured included site supervisor Gao Liqin from China, whose right hip was impaled by a reinforcement bar.

The Tongda employee said: "I am close to some of the workers, not that I always see them, but I have been working at the company for some years." He said the company boss had called yesterday morning to say the beam had "gone down".

When contacted, the employee's superior said he had "no time to talk" and hung up.

At the accident site, a worker said the injured included a man who broke his leg, and another who was impaled.

The hours following the incident saw grim, frenzied activity in Upper Changi Road East. Police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel were seen rushing around at 4.30am, with SCDF's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team officers present as well. They were conducting a search in the rubble and used search dogs as well.

Most of the workers at the scene had rushed down from their dormitories to check on their friends after learning of the accident.

The 10 injured workers were taken to Changi General Hospital. As of 7am, search and rescue operations had been completed.

Residents at a nearby block reported hearing a loud noise, but many were unaware of the extent of the accident. "There was a notice to say they would be working in the night for two days this month, so I didn't think too much about it," said Ms Koh Geok Lan, 60, who lives across the accident site, at Block 346, Tampines Street 33.

But in the morning, she realised the structure connecting the uncompleted bridge was gone. "The red structure (connecting the uncompleted parts of the bridge) had been up for a while, and I have seen many men working on top of it every day," said Ms Koh.

Ms Shriya Sriram, 20, a university student who lives in the same block, said: "It was a very loud sound - there was a screech. It was very metallic-sounding, but I assumed that they were moving something and it dropped."

Pre-dawn work common to avoid traffic disruptions
By Ng Jun Sen, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2017

There was nothing unusual about the early morning construction work at the site where part of the structure collapsed yesterday. The Land Transport Authority explained that the timing had been scheduled.

To facilitate the works, a slip road from the Pan-Island Expressway to the Tampines Expressway (TPE) and Upper Changi Road North and East was closed between 1am and 5am on several days in the past three months.

The Straits Times understands that some roadworks have to take place in the early hours of the morning as it might be the only available time for certain major operations such as concrete casting.

Closing the slip road at night would allow heavy equipment to deliver construction materials to the work site without disrupting daytime traffic.

Pre-dawn works are a common practice in the construction industry, though there may be some additional challenges, such as the lack of light.

Singapore Contractors Association president Kenneth Loo said: "Certainly, there are more challenges to working at night, but it is possible to plan for them, for example by scheduling night shifts and having flood lights."

For works occurring at night, there will be stricter noise control requirements to reduce disruption to residents.

Fatigue levels of those working in these shifts should also be accounted for, as outlined in the Workplace Safety and Health Guidelines on Fatigue Management.

Seven workers admitted to hospital; two in intensive care
By Tan Tam Mei and Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2017

One of the two workers seriously injured when an uncompleted highway structure collapsed in the wee hours yesterday was impaled through his hip by a reinforcing bar.

The Straits Times understands that he was still in surgery yesterday evening at Changi General Hospital (CGH) and had been warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) along with another worker, whose injuries were unknown.

Both were hurt when an incomplete road viaduct linking the Tampines Expressway to the Pan-Island Expressway collapsed, leaving 10 injured and one dead. All 10 were taken to CGH, with seven admitted and three discharged after receiving treatment, said a CGH spokesman.

The affected workers came from Bangladesh, China and India, and were aged between 22 and 49.

The worker who died was identified as Chinese national Chen Yinchuan, 31. He had arrived in Singapore to work just three months ago, in April. ST understands that the two men in the ICU are Bangladeshi worker Alam Shah and Chinese worker Gao Liqin, whose right hip was impaled.

The affected workers were employed by three different companies. These companies were sub- contractors on the worksite, said Mr Yeo Guat Kwang, chairman of the Migrant Workers' Centre, which had a team at the hospital to assist the workers.

Mr Yeo said that all three employers had provided the necessary guarantees to CGH to bear the treatment costs for their workers, or were in the process of doing so.

The employer of the dead worker was also making plans with the Chinese Embassy here to facilitate repatriation arrangements.

Yesterday afternoon, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan and Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min visited the injured workers at CGH.

Dr Lam later said in a Facebook post that the Transport Ministry was in touch with the workers' families and would provide the necessary assistance.

Yesterday's incident brought the number of reported worksite fatalities to 20 this year. There were 66 fatalities last year.

Human error looms large as possible cause of work site collapse near PIE
Experts point to a number of likely reasons for the corbels giving way
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 15 Jul 2017

In most construction failures, human error ranks high as a probable cause. Yesterday's worksite collapse in Upper Changi Road East is unlikely to be an exception.

Local listed construction firm Or Kim Peow (OKP) was casting a section of the viaduct adjacent to a slip road from Upper Changi Road East to the Pan-Island Expressway when it gave way, killing one worker and injuring 10.

OKP, which clinched a $94.6 million contract to build the viaduct in November 2015, was scheduled to complete it by the first quarter of 2020. If it was falling behind schedule, as is the case with a number of other infrastructural projects here, it was not apparent. The worksite had a clean safety record until yesterday.

While the risk of accidents happening tends to increase if a builder is rushing, it exists even if a builder is well on time.

Lapses in design, work processes, supervision, procurement of materials and safety protocols would inevitably have been some of the many failures unearthed by investigators in past incidents.

In the case of the Nicoll Highway cave-in of April 2004 - which claimed four lives - persistent ground movements were systematically ignored during the construction of MRT's Circle Line.

Among several wilful missteps, a public inquiry found that the builders were adjusting the parameters of ground movement readings so as to be able to continue working.

While accidents are not always avoidable, they come under an unnatural glare in well-regulated Singapore when a road caves in or a viaduct collapses.

Especially when it appears that the industry, and indeed the regulatory regime, has not learnt from recent past mistakes.

In the case of yesterday's tragedy, preliminary investigations found that failed corbels were responsible for the viaduct section collapsing. But why or how did the corbels give way?

Engineering experts point to a number of possible reasons.

Former Institution of Engineers Singapore president Chong Kee Sen said corbels should be able to carry the weight of the viaduct section, with some of the load being shared with scaffolds and other supporting structures on the ground.

Mr Chong said it was possible for an "unforeseen impact load" to overwhelm the corbels as well as the other supports. This could be owing to overloading, ground movements or other construction activities.

Vertes Technologies director Chiam Soon Kiam said the corbels - made of reinforced concrete - might not have been given enough time to strengthen after they were cast.

Singapore Contractors Association president Kenneth Loo said that in most cases, concrete would take 28 days to reach its full strength, although contractors might take samples of the concrete on the seventh day to determine if it is strong enough.

A veteran civil engineer told The Straits Times that corbels are usually "extremely strong structures" which do not give way "just like that".

So, what caused them to give way?

"There could have been an error in the design, or the structures were not constructed to design specifications," the engineer, a member of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore, ventured.

Either of these could have happened despite the stringent checks and counter-checks in place, where civil work designs are scrutinised and signed off by independent qualified third parties.

"In some cases, temporary structures are not allowed to rest on corbels," the engineer said.

"This is because when concrete is being cast, it does not have any strength, and the whole thing becomes dead weight. The moisture of uncured concrete also adds to this weight."

"To be fair, we don't know at this point if this was the case," he noted.

Another possible reason for the structural failure is ground movement.

"If the temporary structure was supported by ground structures and, if the ground sank, it could cause a collapse," he said, but noted that builders would have also tested the ground for stability before setting up the supports.

Asked if workers are supposed to be on top of a structure when it is being cast, the civil engineer said: "On paper, they are not supposed to be, for safety reasons. But in practice, it is usual for men to carry out checks during casting to spot and rectify any mistakes along the way."

If what these experts are saying holds water, human error as a root cause looms large once again.

Additional reporting by Ng Jun Sen

PIE work site collapse: Questions loom over collapse of viaduct segment
The collapse of a 40m segment of a viaduct being constructed in Upper Changi Road East killed one worker and injured 10 others on Friday. While the authorities are investigating the accident, questions have been raised about the tender process and the design of the project. Correspondents Ng Jun Sen and Zaihan Mohamed Yusof attempt to answer the questions raised.
The Sunday Times, 16 Jul 2017

Q Why did the Land Transport Authority (LTA) award the contract to build the PIE-TPE viaduct to Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors? Was it based on OKP's lowest bid?

A With a bid of $94.6 million for the tender, OKP submitted the lowest bid for the Design and Build contract in November 2015, which was 27 per cent lower than the next lowest bid of $129.7 million by Yongnam Engineering.

But an LTA spokesman said it considers more than just price in assessing tender proposals, citing other "quality aspects", such as the relevant experience of the participating contractors, their safety management systems and practices, track record, project-specific technical, risk management and resource management proposals.

"All these quality aspects would be considered together with the price proposal to determine the award of the tender," he added.

For all construction tenders, the price-quality method is used by agencies as a framework. The price-quality weighting used for Design and Build projects before January last year is between 60:40 and 70:30.

An OKP spokesman said that despite its lower bid relative to the competition, there was "no compromise on the project's safety".

"With more than 50 years' track record in the industry, we are committed to ensuring project quality and workplace safety for projects that we undertake. For every tender bid that we participate in, we will evaluate and submit a bid which we feel is competitive and offers us reasonable profit margins."

Q Why was OKP, which was given 25 demerit points by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and blacklisted for three months earlier this year, allowed to work on a government project?

A In September 2015, OKP was involved in an incident in which one worker was killed and four injured after they fell more than 6m from a dislodged platform. The firm was found to have breached the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to ensure the working platform erected was safe for use.

According to the MOM website, 25 demerit points are issued to contractors for an accident that leads to death of one person. The points were given this January after the firm was prosecuted in court.

The Straits Times understands that when OKP was awarded the tender, its involvement in the 2015 fatal incident was still being investigated. OKP and one of its site supervisors were convicted of safety breaches only last Tuesday.

Firms that accumulate 25 points will be blacklisted for three months, which bars the contractor from bringing in foreign workers as all work passes will be rejected by MOM during the blacklist period.

They will still be allowed to renew passes for existing workers.

But Lian Beng construction manager Shie Chee Hwa said being on the MOM blacklist has the effect of limiting the firms' ability to tender for new projects. He said: "They will face more targeted and unannounced spot checks for their existing projects too, which can be several times in a month."

But he added that firms can still bid for public sector projects with their existing workforce, though they would have the spectre of the blacklist hanging over them.

Q Why did the corbels holding up the rest of the structure give way?

A The use of corbels in building elevated roads is a standard practice here and around the world, said Mr Chong Kee Sen, former president of the Institution of Engineers, Singapore.

Corbels are support structures designed to hold only a temporary load at the early construction stage, sharing the load with the rest of the scaffolding. When the concrete in the rest of the structure has set, it becomes self-supporting and most of the load is lifted from the corbels, he said. "During construction, corbels are designed to factor in the amount of load that engineers foresee it will carry during this phase, with around 10 per cent tolerance for the typical load it is expected to take."

Foreseeable activities include the weight of the concrete as well as all additional manpower and equipment needed on top of the structure. The task of calculating the load factors falls on the designers or engineers, which in this case will refer to CPG Consultants.

Mr Chong said corbels can fail in scenarios such as ground movements, overloading or design flaws, though he warned against jumping to conclusions before the investigations are complete.

Q What are the measures in place to prevent workplace deaths?

A While there have been 21 workplace deaths this year, only four occurred in the construction sector. There were 66 workplace accidents last year.

MOM conducts more than 6,000 worksite inspections every year, with some firms selected more than others, its spokesman said.

Those found with safety breaches will be taken to task, as "employers bear primary responsibility for managing risks at work and have to take full ownership of the safety and health matters of their employees".

In OKP's case, MOM officers had stepped up inspections on OKP's worksites after the 2015 accident.

Said the spokesman: "Our officers identified minor WSH (workplace safety and health) infractions on OKP's worksites, and have worked with OKP to rectify them immediately."

The last time MOM inspected OKP's worksite at the flyover viaduct was on April 3 - the day before it was removed from the blacklist, he revealed. At the time, the beams and deck slabs had not been installed at the site where the accident occurred. No infringements were found, said the spokesman.

Q Why did LTA stop work at all its worksites for half a day, and what was done during this time?

A All public road and rail worksites under LTA had to observe a "safety time-out" on Friday after the accident, according to its statement.

The Straits Times understands that the time-out ended around 1pm after all contractors carried out a voluntary review of their safety practices.

The Workplace Safety and Health Council has led several planned safety time-outs after a spate of accidents or dangerous occurrences. A time-out differs from a stop-work order, which only MOM can issue and was meted out on the Upper Changi Road East site on Friday.

Concrete samples taken from collapsed viaduct for testing
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 19 Jul 2017

Investigations into the collapse of an uncompleted viaduct got under way yesterday as workers collected concrete samples of the failed structure for analysis by the authorities.

The Straits Times understands the samples were required by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), which is looking into why the corbels - angular structures built to support heavy loads - on the raised highway in Changi gave way at about 3.30am last Friday.

The analysis will determine, among other things, the quality of the mixture, and whether it met design specifications. A lower quality concrete could be weaker than designed, and could indicate that contractors or suppliers cut corners.

Workers could be seen yesterday afternoon using drilling equipment at both ends of the viaduct structure where the corbels were located.

The BCA was unavailable for comment, while employees of Or Kim Peow - the contractor that teamed up with CPG, the corporatised entity of the former Public Works Department, to secure the viaduct project with the lowest bid of $94.6 million - declined to talk to the press.

Asked why it awarded the contract to a contractor that was, at the time, being investigated for an earlier worksite fatality case, the Land Transport Authority reiterated that its tender process took into account "many quality aspects", including "track record".

In last Friday's collapse, which killed one worker and injured 10 others, including two who are in critical condition, preliminary findings pointed to failed corbels as the cause.

But experts said yesterday it was too early to say why the corbels gave way. Retired civil engineer Go Yang San, who was involved in several rail and road infrastructural projects here in the past three decades, said theories about poor design, weak processes and sub- standard materials should not focus only on the corbels.

"It is unfair to pinpoint any one party," he said, adding that secondary supports such as scaffolding could have shifted out of place because of "ground movements".

"If the scaffolding is not supported carefully, a ground movement could transfer the load to the corbels. This could have tipped the balance," he said, referring to the designed strength of the corbels.

Mr Go pointed to wet concrete being poured, which can also exert a "moving load" on the structure. "Anything that moves can tip the balance too," he added.

West-facing corbels supporting both ends of the viaduct section gave way, sending the uncompleted 40m section of the elevated road crashing down. Apparently, workers had poured in 50 cubic m of concrete, weighing about 125 tonnes. There was about 10 cubic m left to go when the accident happened.

Mr Go said that while the contractors and checkers are supposed to ascertain ground conditions before erecting the scaffoldings, "we shouldn't pre-judge" before investigations are completed.

Asked why Or Kim Peow clinched the contract despite being investigated for another workplace fatality case just weeks earlier, he said: "Only the LTA evaluation team can answer that. But the company has been around for a long time."

In September 2015, a 24-year-old worker died after he fell from a 6m-high platform below the Yio Chu Kang flyover. Three others were seriously injured. The four were working at an Or Kim Peow worksite.

In November that year, the local company announced that it had secured the contract to build the viaduct in Changi.

PIE viaduct collapse: Cracks found at 11 spots

Supports added as a precaution following discovery of cracks during probe into fatal accident
By Ng Jun Sen, The Straits Times, 21 Jul 2017

Rows of metal supports have been erected to support parts of an incomplete Upper Changi Road East viaduct after cracks were found during an investigation into the deadly collapse of a section last week.

The cracks were discovered at 11 locations on load-bearing corbels at the worksite, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday evening. As a precautionary measure, the six viaduct sections where the cracks were discovered were further propped up, it added.

On July 14, two corbels - which are meant to bear the load of horizontal beams during construction - gave way, causing a segment of the uncompleted viaduct to collapse while 11 workers were on it.

One died, and 10 were injured. As of yesterday, six were still warded, the LTA said. Work on the site has since been ordered to stop.

Right after the accident, a qualified person (QP) for design from the project company inspected the structural integrity of the remaining six spans of the viaduct at the site.

The QP assessed that there would be no danger after the installation of extra propping to the beams adjacent to the collapsed span, according to the LTA.

Installation of the rows of metal supports started on the same day of the accident.

The project to design and build the viaduct from the Tampines Expressway to the westbound Pan-Island Expressway was awarded to Or Kim Peow Contractors and its consultant, CPG Consultants, in 2015. It was slated for completion in 2020.

Since the accident, a multi- agency team comprising the LTA, Building and Construction Authority and the Ministry of Manpower have been trying to determine what led to the collapse.

The worksite has been hoarded up to facilitate recovery work and investigation.

The cause and nature of these newly discovered cracks - whether they are minor or point to more serious problems - are still being studied.

Building experts told The Straits Times that cracks are common in load-bearing concrete structures, so long as they are not beyond a certain width.

Said former president of the Institution of Engineers Singapore Chong Kee Sen: "The presence of a crack should not be an automatic cause for alarm, though it is an area of concern if the structure is new."

Engineering firm Vertes Technologies' director Chiam Soon Kiam said cracks above 5mm, for example, could hint at a structural issue. However, pictures released by LTA yesterday do not show any serious cracks.

Ms Chiam said: "In any case, the additional supports are more than enough to reduce the chance of another collapse. No one wants another incident on the same site."

Corbels are designed to hold only a temporary load at the early construction stage.

When the concrete in the rest of the structure has set, it becomes self-supporting and most of the load is lifted from the corbels.

Cracks, if any, are typically detected during inspections by the main contractor or the project consultants before the next stage of work. These cracks would be patched up using cement or epoxy, said Mr Chong.

Associate Professor Goh Yang Miang of the National University of Singapore's Department of Building, said: "In corbels made using reinforced concrete, cracks occur as concrete is not that great in dealing with tensional forces. But the metal reinforcement bars within the corbels should be able to withstand the stress."

While cracks in multiple corbels may hint at a possible design issue, he stressed that one should not jump to conclusions without more information.

Elevated road projects under construction safe, says BCA following checks after PIE viaduct collapse
By Christopher Tan, The Straits Times, 28 Jul 2017

No other elevated road currently under construction shows signs of structural distress, checks that followed the collapse of an uncompleted viaduct in Changi showed.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), in response to queries from The Straits Times filed two weeks ago after the July 14 Changi viaduct incident, said: "As a safety precaution, BCA has conducted checks on other road structures above ground that are currently under construction.

"Our checks confirm that there are no signs of structural distress in any of these viaducts under construction."

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said there are three elevated road projects in progress.

They are a flyover from Seletar West Link to Seletar Expressway, a new road between MacRitchie Viaduct and Adam Flyover and an expansion of the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway/Tampines Expressway interchange (which includes a link road to Punggol Central).

Two weeks ago, a section of the Changi viaduct being built by local contractor Or Kim Peow and engineering consultancy CPG gave way. One worker was killed, and 10 others injured.

The BCA said it has instructed the parties involved in the Changi viaduct project "to install props and supports for the adjacent beams or girders as a precautionary measure immediately after the incident".

"There is no further risk to the public as the props had already been installed," said the BCA

The authority said it is still investigating the cause of the collapse, with preliminary findings pointing to corbels - angled concrete structures built to support heavy beams - giving way.

The LTA also said cracks were found at 11 spots on corbels across the six viaduct sections at Changi.

On Tuesday, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say gave another glimpse into what investigators had uncovered so far.

Speaking to an audience of some 1,400 construction industry players at the annual Workplace Safety and Health awards at Resorts World Sentosa, Mr Lim said: "One thing for sure is that this is a man-made incident that could have been avoided if everyone involved in this project had paid enough attention to the design and construction of the viaduct and the safety of workers."

Meanwhile, The Straits Times understands that the Manpower Ministry has inspected a number of LTA road project sites since the viaduct collapsed.

The checks were to ensure adequate measures were in place to ensure worker safety and health.

"When a fatality occurs at the workplace, MOM officers may conduct inspections on other worksites under the company," said a ministry spokesman in a previous statement.

Additional reporting by Ng Jun Sen

'There was no sound, the structure just fell': Changi viaduct collapse survivors recount harrowing experience
Survivors of the Changi viaduct collapse talk about harrowing experience and the aftermath
By Tan Tam Mei, Zaihan Mohamed Yusof and Nilanjana Sengupta, Digital News Editor, The Sunday Times, 30 Jul 2017

Bangladeshi worker Raihan Mohammad and his fellow workers had gone about their usual tasks, casting cement on the top deck of a road viaduct, that when completed, would link the Tampines Expressway to the Pan-Island Expressway.

They were more than halfway done with cement works on the central deck when the structure came tumbling down, said Mr Raihan, 24, referring to the collapse in Changi about two weeks ago that killed one worker and injured 10 others, including himself. "It all happened in five seconds, and we fell. No sound, no warning, and it fell," said Mr Raihan, in English.

Speaking to The Sunday Times in the first full account since the structural collapse at the Upper Changi Road East worksite, he and two of his colleagues revealed that they had noticed a small gap on each side of the central deck at least 30 minutes before the incident.

"(The gap) is not supposed to be there, it's not normal," said Mr Raihan, adding that they had not seen such a gap while working on the other segments of the viaduct.

He said it was between 2cm and 5cm in width, adding that he had told investigators from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), police and main contractor Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors about it after the incident.

The unusual gap was also confirmed by two other workers ST spoke to. When the workers highlighted the gap to the site supervisor that morning, they were told to continue working and that it was not a problem, said Bangladeshi worker Hossain Mohd Mithu, 22.

The men had started the shift at 1.30am and, by about 2.30am, they were working on the central deck.

By 3.30am on July 14, the viaduct had collapsed, killing Chinese national Chen Yinchuan, 31.

The 10 injured were taken to Changi General Hospital. Six have been discharged while four remain warded, including site supervisor Gao Liqin, 49, from China, who was impaled through his hip by a reinforcing bar or rebar. Of the survivors, six are from Bangladesh, three from China, and one from India.

When contacted, the Building and Construction Authority, Land Transport Authority and MOM declined comment on the workers' claims of the gap as investigations are still ongoing. OKP also declined comment on the alleged gaps, saying it was assisting the authorities with investigations.

ST also contacted Tongda Construction and Engineering, which employed 10 out of 11 affected workers - including Mr Chen - about the gaps, but a man answering the phone said he did not have knowledge of the matter and declined to identify himself.

ST understands the families of Mr Chen and Mr Gao arrived in Singapore last week and that Tongda, as well as OKP, have been providing assistance and support.

While it is unclear if the gaps played a part in the incident, preliminary investigations showed corbels - structures put in place to support the weight of precast beams between two sections - at one segment of the viaduct had given way.

More than two weeks after the incident, the sense of panic and chaos is still fresh in the workers' minds.

Mr Raihan said he bounced off two surfaces before he hit the ground after the collapse. He later received six stitches for a cut on the back of his head. He said: "I remember lying there scared and hoping that everyone would be rescued."

Mr Moniruzzaman Mohammad, 33, found himself hanging upside down after his left leg got caught between the matrix of rebars. "I was conscious, but I couldn't feel anything in my leg. There was cement in my eyes, nose, mouth and hair, but I managed to release myself and crawl towards some trees."

The three Bangladeshi men are on paid medical leave ranging from 14 to 90 days each while the two Chinese workers - Mr Wang Jun Wei, 40, and Mr Chen Jiang Hui, 41 - are back at work. Mr Moniruzzaman, discharged from hospital on Thursday with his left leg in a cast, has not told his family about the incident as he doesn't want them to worry. "I've only been here for a year, I want to continue working, but I'm worried I won't be able to return to work... I'm not angry with anyone. I'm just anxious I won't be able to stay here."

Mr Raihan said life is different after the incident. "I get nightmares and I jump at the slightest sound, like a door slamming. The doctors gave me a lot of painkillers, but my heart isn't at peace," he added.

* Parliament: Probe into PIE viaduct collapse to conclude in October
Contractor had lowest quality score among bidders; workplace safety laws under review
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 2 Aug 2017

Investigations into the fatal Pan-Island Expressway viaduct collapse will be completed in October, said Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min during a debate that revealed contractor Or Kim Peow (OKP) had the lowest quality score among qualified bidders.

Dr Lam told Parliament yesterday that although preliminary investigations pointed to the design of supporting structures called corbels as the cause of the July 14 collapse that killed one worker and injured 10 others, MPs should let the investigation "take its due course".

He said the uncompleted viaduct project will be on hold until investigations are over.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan later told the House that his ministry has started a review of laws on workplace safety, and aims to complete it by this year.

The viaduct collapse dominated question time yesterday, with 11 MPs raising questions to scrutinise the price-quality tender system and workplace safety regime.

Asked why main contractor OKP was awarded the project despite having a fatal incident in 2015, Dr Lam said investigations into that incident - where a worker died after falling from a 6m-high platform - had not concluded when the tender was awarded. He added that OKP had a good 10-year safety record before the 2015 incident, and had also submitted the lowest bid.

To this, Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) said that notwithstanding a bidder's track record, weight should be given to recent safety incidents even if findings have not been concluded. Furthermore, Mr Seah pointed out, OKP's winning bid was substantially lower than the next lowest bid.

"I think these are alarm bells," he said. "I know we are always smarter in hindsight but I think these are serious lessons and serious enough that... going forward, it should be instituted so that future tenders on this two-envelope system adhere to the principle and intention of why we have a two-envelope system."

Dr Lam revealed that a price-quality ratio of 70:30 was used to assess bids for the ill-fated viaduct project. Of the quality component, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) assigned 25 per cent to safety.

He noted OKP "actually scored the lowest for quality in the project submission", although it had the highest price-quality score overall.

Responding to Mr Seah, he said LTA does review the guidelines to make necessary changes, and it will have to seek approval from the Building and Construction Authority to make significant changes.

Post-incident checks revealed cracks at 11 other locations along the failed viaduct. It has also emerged that a consultant from CPG - OKP's sub-contractor - who designed the viaduct was also the supervisor who checked the construction works.

While the practice is not illegal, industry players said it is not ideal.

OKP had lowest quality score, but highest price-quality ratio
The Straits Times, 2 Aug 2017

Safety makes up about a quarter of the quality score when the Land Transport Authority evaluates project tenders.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min revealed in Parliament yesterday that the price-quality ratio for such projects ranged from 80:20 to 60:40, depending on the complexity of the project.

In the case of the Pan-Island Expressway viaduct project in Changi, the ratio was 70 for price and 30 for quality. Dr Lam said other projects of similar complexity and nature also had this ratio.

He revealed that the Building and Construction Authority assigned 15 per cent of the quality component to safety performance, but the LTA in its deliberations raised this to 25 per cent.

Part of the uncompleted viaduct collapsed last month, killing one worker and injuring 10 others.

The incident was scrutinised in Parliament yesterday, and Dr Lam told the House that main contractor Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors had actually scored the lowest for quality among the four qualified bidders. However, it had the lowest bid, which resulted in it having the highest price-quality score overall.

And while OKP had a fatal incident in 2015, he noted that investigations were still ongoing when it was awarded the PIE contract.

He also pointed to OKP's good track record over the past 10 years and how it improved its safety standards since the 2015 accident.

According to tender documents, OKP - which partnered engineering consultancy CPG to land the PIE viaduct project - had put in a bid of $94.6 million.

This was 27 per cent lower than the next lowest bid of $129.7 million by Yongnam Engineering. Two other bidders - Singapore Piling and Samwoh Corp - had bids of $185 million and $193.7 million, respectively.

Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh asked if contractors who expect to score poorly for safety will lower their bid price "to an unrealistic level... risking further safety lapses", and whether a review of the price-quality method was therefore necessary.

Dr Lam said the LTA "does not bar contractors which have safety lapses or are blacklisted" from participating in tenders.

"Their quality envelopes will still be opened and assessed objectively and any safety lapses will then be penalised under the safety component accordingly," he said, adding that LTA board members can veto decisions on the basis of poor safety. The board has vetoed 16 bids from 10 companies for poor safety.

He also told Ms Cheryl Chan (Fengshan) that the main contractor will ultimately be held responsible for any safety lapses, including by its sub-contractors.

Workplace safety laws under review
MOM looking at enhancing deterrence, raising maximum penalties
By Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent, The Straits Times, 2 Aug 2017

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has started a review of laws on workplace safety and aims to complete the exercise by the end of the year.

It is looking at enhancing deterrence against worksite accidents, improving the industry's learning from such accidents through the release of accident reports, and raising the maximum penalties for offences that result in serious injuries or deaths.

Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan spoke about the review of the Workplace Safety and Health Act in Parliament yesterday, in response to a question from labour MP Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC).

His comments come after a viaduct under construction at the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) collapsed last month, killing one worker and injuring 10.

More than 10 MPs asked parliamentary questions about the worksite accident at the sitting.

Responding to the questions on workplace safety, Mr Tan said that fatalities from construction site accidents have fallen.

There have been four deaths so far this year, compared with 24 last year and 27 in 2015. He added that the MOM has stepped up enforcement checks at construction sites, and has conducted about 16,000 inspections a year.

Besides this, the ministry also has a demerit points system and a blacklisting regime, Mr Tan said.

Since 2015, the MOM has issued demerit points to 223 companies for safety violations.

Among them, 25 were barred from hiring foreign workers until they improve their safety record.

In May last year, the MOM also enhanced the blacklisting regime for construction companies, said Mr Tan. Companies are now put on a "Business Under Surveillance" programme immediately after a worksite death occurs.

There are now 25 companies on the blacklist, and they are supervised by MOM closely until they have fixed their safety lapses, including putting their workers through refresher safety training.

One of the companies is Or Kim Peow Contractors (OKP), the main contractor of the PIE viaduct project.

A fatal accident had happened at the company's Yio Chu Kang flyover worksite in September 2015, but it was not immediately blacklisted then, said Mr Tan, adding that this was before the MOM tightened its blacklisting regime in May last year.

"MOM inspected all of OKP's worksites to check if the accident reflects a wider and systemic failure of the company's safety management. However, no evidence of systemic safety lapses were found from the inspections," said Mr Tan, explaining why the company was not put on the blacklist after the worksite death.

He said safety regulations and laws are reviewed regularly to keep them updated, and added that the MOM will continue to monitor developments and refine its regulatory framework.

"If there is a need to further tighten, we will continue to do so," he said.

** Parliament: Probe into PIE viaduct collapse taking much longer than expected
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 11 Jan 2018

Six months after a road viaduct collapsed in Upper Changi Road East, investigations into the accident which killed one worker and injured 10 others have not been completed.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a written parliamentary reply on Monday that investigations are still ongoing.

"After investigations are completed, the matter will be referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers for their assessment. More information will be provided at the appropriate juncture," he said in response to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who asked for an update.

Last August, Senior Minister of State for Transport Lam Pin Min told the House that investigations into the July 14 tragedy would be wrapped up by October. It is not known what is causing the delay, or when the probe will be completed.

Listed home-grown engineering firm OKP Holdings clinched the viaduct project in 2015 for $94.6 million - the lowest bid.

In August, Dr Lam revealed that a price-quality ratio of 70:30 was used to assess bids for the ill-fated viaduct project. In the quality component, the Land Transport Authority assigned 25 per cent to safety.

He noted OKP "actually scored the lowest for quality in the project submission", although it had the highest price-quality score overall.

Post-incident checks revealed cracks at 11 other locations along the viaduct. It has also emerged that a consultant from CPG - OKP's sub-contractor - who designed the viaduct was also the supervisor who checked the construction works.

While the practice is not illegal, industry players said it is not ideal.

The viaduct, linking Tampines Expressway to the Pan-Island Expressway and Upper Changi Road East, was slated to be completed by the first quarter of 2020.

Work has halted since the collapse, and will not resume until investigations are over.

The Manpower Ministry issued 66 stop-work orders in the first 11 months of last year. Most have since been lifted.

Two weeks after the collapse, Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say called it a "wake-up call" and said it would not have happened "if everyone involved in this project had paid enough attention to the design and construction of the viaduct and the safety of workers".

The collapse was among the worst infrastructural failures here in recent years.

In April 2004, a section of Circle MRT Line which was under construction gave way, bringing along with it part of the Nicoll Highway nearby. Four workers were killed.

LTA Media Statement:
- Worksite Accident -14 Jul 2017
- Media Update at 1900hrs on Worksite Accident at Slip Road from Upper Changi Road East to PIE (Changi) -14 Jul 2017
- Media Update at 1030hrs on Worksite Accident at Slip Road from Upper Changi Road East to PIE (Changi) -15 Jul 2017
- Media Update at 1100hrs on Worksite Accident at Slip Road from Upper Changi Road East to PIE (Changi) -16 Jul 2017
- Update on Worksite Accident at Slip Road from Upper Changi Road East to PIE (Changi) -21 Jul 2017

Parliament: Oral Reply by Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Lam Pin Min to Parliamentary Questions on Collapse of Uncompleted Viaduct near PIE Exit to TPE -1 Aug 2017

Written Reply by Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan to Parliamentary Question on Update on Investigation into TPE-PIE Viaduct Collapse in July 2017 -8 Jan 2018

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