Shipbuilding fatalities need to be addressed, says DOSH Sarawak

SIBU: The State Department of Safety and Health (DOSH) says that the high number of fatalities in the nation’s shipbuilding industry needs to be looked into.

DOSH Sarawak vice-director for Occupational Health, Saiful Azhar Mohd Said, said that the nine deaths reported nationwide so far this year were a cause for concern and that concrete action needed to be taken now to prevent more fatal accidents.

“Of the nine deaths, four of them were in Sibu.

“Three of the four died in a confined space (within working area) and the other fell from height," he said.

The trio above reportedly inhaled poisonous gas while doing welding work in the hull of a vessel.

“The four were all foreigners,” Saiful Azhar said after launching a seminar on shipbuilding compliance on Wednesday (April 17).

DOSH Sarawak and Sibu Shipyards Association are compiling a booklet to address the issue, and would be gathering input from participants of the seminar who represent 45 shipbuilding companies in Sibu.

“The findings in the booklet will be shared with shipbuilders throughout the country so that they will be more aware of the general hazards in the industry, and take steps to reduce them in the workplace,” said Saiful Azhar.

The booklet will be ready at the end of the year. It will be in several languages in a format easily understood even by among the general workers in the industry, he added.

The country shipbuilding industry generates an estimated RM6.4bil in revenue annually and provides employment to 35,000 people.

There are about 100 shipyards nationwide, which build and undertake maintenance, repair and overhaul of vessels of various types and sizes.

Most of the shipyards are concentrated in Sibu (49) and Miri in the state of Sarawak, and specialise in building and repairing small to medium-sized vessels such as tugboats, offshore support vessels (OSVs), barges, anchor handlers and passenger boats.

Shipyards in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia focus on building and repairing naval/patrol vessels, and fabricating offshore structures, while most in the east coast concentrate on fishing vessels.