IT is heart-rending to learn that three construction workers lost their lives, and two sustained severe injuries following the collapse of a warehouse under construction in Batu Maung, Penang on Nov 28. The victims, all Bangladeshi nationals, were caught in the aftermath of this devastating incident.

A prompt stop-work notice was issued by the authorities, and an ongoing investigation is underway to determine the cause of the incident.

According to reports, the investigation will be conducted under Section 15 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, which pertains to the employer’s responsibility for the safety and health of his employees.

The warehouse, a three-story complex owned by a major international logistics company, was intended to be a fast-track project that commenced at the end of 2022. Originally slated for completion by the end of the current year, progress had fallen behind, with just over half of the project finished after nearly a year of work.

The collapse occurred specifically in the construction phase of the roof frame.

The longevity of buildings relies on meticulous design and construction to ensure lasting structural integrity over the years. A roof collapse serves as an indication that there were issues in the building’s construction.

Determining responsibility is challenging due to the intricacies surrounding such incidents. Therefore, a comprehensive investigation is essential to pinpoint the causes.

The construction process of any building is crucial, with numerous essential steps to follow, including adhering to specific timelines for concrete drying, among other considerations.

Furthermore, unanticipated additional loads not accounted for in the design process can contribute to structural weaknesses in a building.

Often overlooked is the impact of wind force on the structural stability of a building. Improper construction of beams or their incorrect installation can result in accidents.

Consequently, it is imperative to have a proficient team of geology specialists, civil engineers, contractors and project managers working on building projects to avert unfortunate incidents. Incidents are typically not attributable to a single cause but rather the accumulation of multiple factors.

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