Finding answers to Malaysia’s B&C industry challenges

By Lee Zhuomin

Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah Yusof, Minister of Works, Malaysia

Reducing worksite health hazards and accidents is a top priority for Malaysia’s construction industry.

To get there, the Construction Industry Transformation Programme (CITP), a five-year plan for the 2016 – 2020 period, was launched in 2015. The objective, one of the four mapped out in the Programme, aims to improve the quality and safety of construction projects.

Workplace accidents are currently at an alarming figure, with the 2015 baseline on fatality rate at 10.94 per 100, 000 workers. The numbers exceed that of Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom. CITP goals aim to halve this by 2020.

“Ultimately, we should aspire for zero fatality,” Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah Yusof, Minister of Works said, at the opening ceremony of the International Construction Week in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

“There is now an urgent need for us to give greater emphasis on bringing up quality and safety performance to the next level,” he added.

Zero fatalities is not impossible. The construction of the London Olympics Park is proof that accident-free mega projects can happen if all stakeholders commit to high levels of professionalism and responsibility.

Last year, the Construction Industry Development Board amended Act 520 which stipulates that manufacturers of 13 categories of construction materials must register with the Board. Construction professionals must also be registered and skilled workers must be accredited.

Officials officiating the opening ceremony of International Construction Week and EcoBuild Southeast Asia 2017 on April 13

Among some of these initiatives, CIDB and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health have also formalised their collaboration to inccrease training Safety & Health Officers, accreditation and Work Improvement for Small Contractors programme.

“Prevention through design”, for example, is one of the principles set out in the Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health in Construction Industry Management 2017. The Guidelines are based on the UK’s Construction Design Management regulations where all stakeholders in the supply chain have a responsibility in ensuring health and safety in construction.

These changes ensure that only materials that have passed the Malaysian Standard specifications can be used in construction.

It also means contractors and site supervisors now have to bear more responsibility in managing the safety of building works.

As the industry strives towards these goals, it is also, at the same time, adjusting to other challenges spilled over from 2016: the falling Ringgit, foreign worker levy hike and poor oil prices.

The issues don’t end here for we have not covered sustainability and the arduous journey to get there. Against this background, engineered timber companies must address these questions:

  1. How will Act 520 affect engineered timber manufacturers?
  2. Currently, the only wood product that requires approval after the amendment of the Fourth Schedule is “prefabricated roof truss system”. Will other timber products be required to be gain approval in future? 
  3. How can wood construction in helping to achieve goals of safety and health?

*Wood in Architecture Asia will attempt to answer some of these questions in the upcoming issue.