BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei has recorded 51 construction fatalities in the past five years, with lax regulations cited as a reason for poor health and safety standards in the industry.

Hj Jasrin Hj Serudin, senior inspector at the Safety, Health and Environment National Authority (SHENA), said loose regulations in the construction industry meant that its health, safety and environment standards are low compared to the oil and gas industry.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Brunei Industry Group Forum on Tuesday, he said SHENA is aiming to bring down the number of workplace deaths in the construction industry to zero by 2035.

“We have set a baseline of 10 fatalities a year [which started from 2015]. This will be further reduced to five fatalities by the year 2025 and zero fatality by 2035,” he said.

SHENA was established in 2018 as the national regulator for workplace safety and health, environmental (HSE) and radiation matters.

The regulator has conducted 186 inspections on premises including oil and gas installations, power stations, petrochemical plant, construction sites and industrial sites.

Government data showed 14 stop work orders and 18 remedial orders have been issued since 2013.

“Inspections carried out by SHENA is a legal inspection, if HSE concerns are sighted or observed, then SHENA can issue a stop work order or remedial order.

“The employer, occupier of the premises will then need to improve their workplace safety and health in order to lift the stop work order or remedial order,” Hj Jasrin added.

One of SHENA’s challenges is shortage of inspectors.

Hj Jasrin said they require 50 competent inspectors to enforce the Workplace Safety and Health Order and Radiation Protection Order.

Four national HSE areas have been developed from a performance review over the last three years.

The areas are: 1) work at height; 2) crane management, 3) asset integrity; 4) school, commercial and government buildings.

Hj Jasrin said SHENA is currently drafting work at height regulations as falls from height contribute to workplace deaths.

Under crane management, many deaths resulted from lifting activities.

SHENA issued Industry Guidance Note (IGN) “2019/IGN/01: Lifting Operation” on June 13 this year, which describes the duties of a person/organisation undertaking lifting operations.

These include selecting the right lifting equipment, marking the lifting equipment, planning, organising and carrying out lifting operations thorough examination and inspection.

The cranes need to be examined by an authorised examiner and issued with the examination certificate or document, he said.

The senior inspector said SHENA is initiating the process of registration for crane operators, lifting machines (crane), authorised examiners and training providers.

“With the above initiatives, we can ensure lifting machines are fit for operations, the crane operators are well-trained and competent, the lifting activities are planned adequately,” he said.

In terms of asset integrity, Hj Jasrin said as Brunei is heavily dependent on the continuity of oil and gas production and supply, it is important that these assets continue to operate at an optimum and safe level.

“Poor maintenance and poor management of structural integrity can hinder the smooth operation of these assets, hence it would bring a huge impact to Brunei’s economy.

“If the assets are in poor condition, then an incident like oil spill can happen (and affect) our environment and communities. So it is important to manage the assets and operators have good asset integrity management,” he added.

Meanwhile, Fire and Rescue Department inspections in 2017 found that schools have inadequate provision of fire detection and control; outdated and obsolete equipment; lack of training and awareness on fire drills and poor maintenance management.