Crackdown on crane drivers

The fatal accident in Bukit Bintang on Aug 25 was the last straw. The Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is cracking down on tower crane operators who do not operate by the book.


Those who use fake certificates and competency licences may find themselves out on their ear.

DOSH directors in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Penang were instructed to inspect tower crane operators at all construction sites beginning yesterday and the results have been astonishing already.

In Johor alone, DOSH found 47 tower crane workers using fake competency licences.

DOSH director-general Datuk Mohtar Musri said he told state directors to check every crane and whether the operators are competent, trained and licensed after the latest tragedy.

On Aug 25, administration executive Joice Chin Khoon Sing, 24, who was driving along Jalan Raja Chulan here was killed when a crane hook from a construction site fell more than 20 storeys onto her car.

“Construction sites found to have tower cranes operating illegally will be slapped with a stop work order,” said Mohtar when contacted.

“Action will be taken against the main contractor or those found to be responsible.”

He said it was the duty of the main contractor on site to ensure each standard and regulation was adhered to.

For heavy machinery like a tower crane, he said it was the main contractor’s job to ensure it was safe and operated by a legal operator.

“The tower crane operator must have a valid certificate of fitness and tower cranes should only be operated by those with a valid certificate of competency from DOSH.”

Mohtar said some main contractors allowed illegal or untrained crane operators.

“Some illegal operators use an original certificate but replace the original photo of the licensed person with theirs.

“We are changing the certification system to include QR codes that we can scan using our phones to minimise tampering of the certificate.”

On the fatal accident, Mohtar said DOSH had “narrowed down what caused the wire rope to snap and how the crane was operating outside its boundary”.

“We are not at liberty to reveal it pending the court action that we are going to take,” he said.

In Johor Baru, the 47 tower crane workers using fake competency licences were mostly from China, Bangladesh and Indonesia, said state DOSH director Kormain Mohd Noor.

He said the operators working at various sites in Johor Baru, Pengerang and Muar had never undergone any of the required crane operating courses, which was an offence.

Kormain says DOSH has lodged police reports about the falsification of documents and illegal handling of heavy vehicles.

“The illegal operators usually worked at night to avoid detection by the authorities,” he told reporters after attending the Inculcating Preventive Culture conference here.

DOSH, he said, had 159 competent operators on record in comparison to the 273 active tower cranes currently in Johor.

Kormain said some employers chose to hire unlicensed workers as it was cheaper.

To date, 30 tower crane owners had been fined a total of RM75,000 and six crane owners have received summonses for various offences amounting to RM80,000.

In George Town, state DOSH director Mohd Rosdee Yaakob said the “Tower Crane Ops” here would continue until Thursday.

“We will issue a stop work order immediately if we find anything amiss,” he said yesterday.

Mohd Rosdee said DOSH would also review the firms’ maintenance contracts and their records.

“We have so far inspected four tower cranes at two construction sites.

“We seized one crane and issued two notices,” he added.