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Date PostedSeptember 24, 2013

Embankment Collapse Results in 3 Fatalities

The risks associated with unstable ground have once again been highlighted by an accident which took place on a construction site in Kuala Lumpur recently. The accident resulted in 3 worker’s deaths and caused the serious injury of another.

The 3 deceased workers were foreign workers from Myanmar and Bangladesh who perished while engaging on work near an embankment. The accident happened when a small section of the 2 metre high embankment fell on them at the housing construction site.

One worker sustained serious injuries to both his legs during the incident but is lucky to have escaped death.

An embankment collapse usually occurs when the embankment or the underlying foundation soil cannot support the weight of the embankment. The first indication of an embankment failure is usually a crescent shaped crack along the top surface of the embankment.

Read the following excerpt taken from a report on a popular Kuala Lumpur website TheSunDaily.my

A spokesperson from IJM, the developer of the project, said the incident was a construction site accident and not a landslide.

Bukit Antarabangsa state assemblyman Azmin Ali who was at the site of the accident, said the Ampang Jaya Municipal Council had ordered for an immediate halt to construction works.

“There is no structural damage. This was a construction site accident, however an investigation will still be conducted by the Construction Industry Development Board,” said Azmin.

The bodies of the workers have been sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for post-mortem, while the injured worker was sent to the Ampang hospital.

Source: http://www.thesundaily.my/news/759794

The most common cause of embankment collapses are bad weather and in particular heavy rains. Embankments present a risk to workers and should be treated as any other hazard is. In other words a risk assessment should be conducted and the hazards associated with embankments should be identified beforehand. Some of the hazards associated with embankments on construction sites include fall or dislodgement of earth or rock, falls from one level to another, falling objects, rain, vibration and hazardous noise  etc.

Once the hazards are identified, the risks should be assessed.The risk assessment will help to identify which workers are at risk and determine what sources and processes are causing that risk. It will also help to identify if and what kind of control measures should be implemented and check the effectiveness of existing control measures.

Once the risks have been assessed, then control measures can be implemented. If the hazard cannot be completely eliminated it should be substituted with a less hazardous method. If that is not possible the hazard should be isolated or minimised as much as possible for example keeping unauthorized people from entering the dangerous area where the embankment may injure them if it collapses.

The final control in the hierarchy of controls involves implementing engineering controls to minimise the risk. For example benching, battering or shoring the sides of the excavation to reduce the risk of ground collapse.

One of the most important aspects of construction site safety is ensuring that every worker is knowledgeable about the risks associated with this high risk industry and how to overcome them.

Construction safety training is not just a matter of legal liability in Oz but it is important in training workers about the hazards they will face in construction work and the safety control measures to work safely around these hazards while satisfying their workplace health and safety requirements particularly working in a way that does not endanger the lives of oneself and one’s co-workers – in other words it helps employers fulfil their WH&S requirements as well as assisting employees fulfil theirs.


Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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