The second fatal accident at a Chennai Metro Rail site has happened in less than six months after the first.

While investigation is on to ascertain the cause of the accident, experts say a host of factors, ranging from oversight to malfunctioning equipment, could have led to Thursday’s incident.

L. Boeing Singh of IIT Guwahati says, “Usually, such accidents take place due to the inadequacy of structural design or an oversight during operation. But we cannot attribute a reason without a probing the accident.”

Another engineering expert from IIT Madras, on condition of anonymity, said, while using a launching girder — an iron structure used to place concrete piles between pillars along elevated corridors — there is a risk it may slip and fall.

“When the alignment of the launching girder is not proper or the load is arranged eccentrically, such accidents may occur,” he said.

In the past, the use of launching girders in large-scale constructions has proven successful in the West because of adherence to stringent safety practices, he said.

“There should always be a supervisor or engineer around to inspect the site when such important operations are executed. It is the absence of such supervision that led to a girder collapse at a Delhi Metro Rail site. Six persons lost their lives in the 2009 accident,” he said.

An official of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said, ever since the accident in July 2009, they had beefed up security arrangements as Phase-III of Metro Rail work is in progress.

“Only periodical maintenance of equipment and meticulous inspection can avert such accidents. That’s what we have been doing so far,” he said.

A.R. Shanthakumar, former dean of Anna University, said, safety should be a habit at construction sites.

“From wearing the safety head-gear to steel-ribbed shoes, everything matters as far as safety is concerned. Also, if workers use safety belts, then it may prevent them from falling while they work at great heights,” he said.

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