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Death of the city of Ngee Ann: safety barriers 1 m tall and consistent with other countries, according to BCA


SINGAPUR: The requirement of a minimum height of 1 m for security barriers in Singapore commercial buildings is "consistent" with other countries, according to the authorities, after informing that two people fell to shopping centers in less than three years.

Last Sunday (July 14), a 35-year-old man died after falling to a height in the city of Ngee Ann. The police have classified the case as an unnatural death and are investigating.

In 2017, Jonathan Chow, 17, died after falling four floors at another Orchard Road mall. He had jumped from a bridge linking Orchard Central and Orchard Gateway, landing on a ledge that collapsed under his weight.

According to the Building Control Regulations, under a section on the safety of the fall, "they must take appropriate measures to prevent people from falling from a height" where there is a Vertical drop of level 1 or more.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) lists security barriers as part of these "appropriate measures," and pointed out that the height of the barriers should not be less than 1 m .

READ OUT: The 35-year-old man dies in the fall in the city of Ngee Ann

As a response to the CNA consultations, a BCA spokesman said that before 2007 the minimum requirement for security barriers was 0.9 meters.

"The requirement of security barriers installed as of 2007 increased to 1,000 mm (1m) after reviewing the construction standards and regulations," said the spokesman.

"The current minimum requirement for security barriers is consistent with the rules of other countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia."

The CNA visited several shopping centers in Orchard Road and found that most had security barriers that met the current requirements.

The Ngee Ann City barrier is around 1.02 meters high, while other commercial centers such as Wisma Atria (1m), ION Orchard (1.1m) and Wheelock Place (1, 07 m) had similar height barriers. The Lucky Plaza barrier measures 0.95 meters in height.


Architect Goh Chong Chia, who has more than four decades of experience in the sector, described the current requirement as "more than enough".

"One meter is almost universal," he told CNA. "It's pretty high to keep people from falling. I do not know what (the man from Ngee Ann City) did something to overtake."

Goh added that "there have to be some special circumstances about how" the man fell, noting that it "makes no sense" to block cuts in shopping centers with walls or high-security glass panels in order to secure .

David Ng, member of the civil and structural technical committee of the engineers' institution, agreed. "This measure has been well implemented and effective," he said.

Also, associate professor Chui Yoon Ping, head of the Human Security Factors at the University of Social Sciences of Singapore, said the requirement was sufficient.

However, he pointed out that barriers designed with horizontal elements that promote climbing or those with wide openings where children can get stuck or fall through are not effective.

"Other considerations are that the barrier is not very effective for extremely high people," he added.

READ OUT: The death of a teenager who fell from the cornice of Orchard Central should serve as a "sad precaution story": Coroner

If you use glass to the barrier, the BCA regulations indicate that the glass should be able to "withstand the load for which it has been designed and will not be susceptible to spontaneous breakage or breakage" .

However, associate Prof. Chui said that a safe barrier is higher than the waist average of Singapore. "I think it's less than 1m," he added.


But a director of the National Security Council of Singapore said that it might be time to "revisit" this requirement, since, according to occupational safety and health regulations, the minimum height of the barriers that protect from falling into areas of construction is of 1.1 m.

"There should not be a big difference," Mr Salahuddin Abdul Samad said, adding that "0.1 million is enough."

Mr Salahuddin said the barrier should be at least higher than the height of the navel of an average Asian, noting that this figure is greater than 1m.

"This is essential to avoid falling, not just for the public, but for any occupant of the commercial building," he added. "Anything that is raised from the waist, people can only fall easily. Because this is a point of support."

Beyond safety barriers, Mr Salahuddin said that other measures to avoid falling include the edges that go beyond the barrier and spread designs of soils that prevent a complete fall on the ground floor or in the basement.

These features should be incorporated during the design of a building to avoid "accidental falls," he said, and pointed out that an extension that supports vegetation or a stepped triangular plant could also be aesthetically pleasing.

The BCA spokesman said that the authority "will implement new security measures when necessary".

"The BCA will continue to regularly review our construction standards to ensure rigor and compatibility with international standards," the spokesman added.

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