Driving by Metro sites? Look up!

Just a month after a section of the scaffolding at a Chennai Metro Rail station in Alandur killed a 30-year-old man, another bit of heavy construction material fell on a cab at the Chennai airport on Monday night. The cab driver S. Balakrishnan miraculously survived. Around 9.30 p.m., when Mr. Balakrishnan entered the airport to pick up a client, a bit of scaffolding – a “lengthy bolt” from the construction site came crashing down damaging the bonnet of his Indica car.

A visibly shaken Mr. Balakrishnan recounted his narrow escape from death: “It looked like an iron rod and has ruined my car. The contractor said they will repair the car. But that is not the point. They should have adequate safety precautions during construction. I can’t believe I actually survived. If it had fallen on the roof of the car, I would not be alive now.”

An official of Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) said the bolt was used for parapet erection at the site. He followed up that statement with a feeble protest that safety precautions were indeed being taken at the site.

Though CMRL has constantly given assurances that construction work on the overhead lines and stations was perfectly safe for motorists using the roads below, these two incidents certainly have urged people to look beyond the old kerb rules. In addition to looking left and right, one needs to watch the skies above them.

Experts note that somehow, the mandated safety practices are merely in letter, but not in spirit. “When any construction site overlaps with public access spaces it should be doubly protected. They should have nets and other protective mechanisms in place at such project sites,” an engineering expert from IIT-Madras said.

Sources said there are safety practices that a contractor of CMRL is expected to follow, but it is not clear if they do and how often it is monitored.

Another professor at IIT-Madras noted that there should be safety engineers supervising and reporting directly to the head of the project about safety precautions at the work sites.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 12:47:37 AM |

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