Balakrishnan A/L Karuppiah is the President of the Association of Construction Occupational Safety and Health (ACOSH). He began his career as a scaffolder when he was 19 years old with an education level of Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP). He is now one of the most experienced pioneers in scaffolding industry in Malaysia.
He started his career working as a staff in Tyson Building Corporation, a construction company that was involved in the construction and building of Shangri-La Hotel, EPF corporate office and Dayabumi building. His training and experience includes undergoing a special training in a Japanese company named Shin Kai Construction. During the early stage of construction industry, they didn’t even have the term “scaffolders” yet. There were scaffolds but not scaffolders. In those days, they were called riggers .
To pursue his education ambition, he went back to school and completed his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) at the age of 21 years old and continue to earned his Master in Occupational Safety and Health from the University Malaya.
While working in the construction of Kementerian Kewangan Malaysia (MOF) building project, he began to noticed and realize the importance of safety in scaffolding industry when the numbers of workers injured and killed were very high, but yet there’s no action was taken to rectify the situation.
His great concern for the safety of workers has give rise an idea to him to set up an association that brings about the safety awareness for the all workers and also to promote workplace safety and health. He first started the group with a small number of members, but unexpectedly he received response, encouragement and very positive feedback from the workers.
He then registered an association and hence initiated ACOSH in 2004 to enhance and promote workplace safety and health in all workplaces across construction industries.
ACOSH was established to provide advisory and information services to people on how important safety and health in the construction sites. ACOSH has grown and have a variety of services to provide facilities and information for those people who are involve in the scaffolding industries.
Acosh Vision’s is to be the leading NGO in reducing construction accidents statistics in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya & Selangor, and the mission is to enhance and promote workplace with safety and health in all workplaces across construction industries. Acosh also attached with PERKESO and Ministry of Human Resources (MOHR).
As a pioneer in scaffolding industry, he truly believe and agreed that the MS 1462 standard should strictly be implemented and enforced to all developers and contractors. With the implementation of this standard quality test, all scaffold contractor will adhere to the standard thickness as set by SIRIM. With the recent increase in steel and metal prices, manufacturers are cutting cost by reducing the thickness of the scaffolding from 2.5mm to 1.8mm which is not the recommended safe controlled thickness. If the minimum thickness standards quality control is implemented , this initiative will reduce the accidents and ensure workplace with better safety and health. He hoped that MS1462 would be implemented as soon as possible to reduce injuring and death in construction sites. The standard must be complied by all developers and contractors and those not meeting the quality standard test by SIRIM and CIDB should not be allowed to used in the place of work.
He also believes that all manufactures should attached a certificate of Perakuan Pematuhan Standard (PPS) from SIRIM together on their product and must be verified by Officer from Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB). With the PPS standard, the formwork and shoring will be strong and not easy to collapse.
With over 25 years of experience in scaffolding industry, he observed and was very disappointed because most of developers are solely interested in profits, without thinking of employee safety at construction sites.
Last but not least, he hoped that all the parties related with construction would work together and cooperate in protecting and reducing accident in scaffolding industries. Most importantly, the government must be aware and also take action in the role of enforcement to all developers and contractors to comply with the safety standards from SIRIM and CIDB.
“Be a developed and harmonious country that is safe to visit. When workers can work safely, our economy will improve as well” he said before finished our interview session.