THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) launched a safety campaign yesterday to bring the number of construction worksite accidents down to zero.

The "Zero Accident" movement will see the LTA tighten safety processes for contractors and increase surprise checks, among other measures.

For instance, tenders for new rail or road projects, starting with the Thomson Line, will have additional requirements with regard to safety specifications.

As part of this renewed focus on safety, the LTA has upgraded its safety, health and environmental standards, starting with all its new rail and road projects.

Contractors will have to implement a safety programme to correct workers' behaviour and cultivate a strong safety culture in their firms.

An existing Safety Performance Scheme for civil contracts in excess of $40 million will be enhanced. Contractors must meet higher safety standards to receive a bonus payout. They risk getting paid less if they perform poorly in terms of safety.

At present, the maximum bonus or penalty discount off the contract price is $1.25 million for the duration of construction. LTA will raise the cap for a reward or penalty to $1.5 million.

Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo launched the movement at the 14th Annual Safety Award Convention at Nanyang Polytechnic yesterday.

While noting the pressure of tighter deadlines to complete infrastructure projects, Mrs Teo said there needed to be constant reminders not to take short cuts or to neglect procedures that ensure workers' safety.

The target of zero worksite accidents is "ambitious, but achievable", she said.

This "Zero Accident" movement comes after two fatal accidents at MRT construction sites this year.

In July, two Chinese nationals were killed when a temporary roof collapsed at the Downtown Line Bugis MRT station site. Last month, an Indian national fell into a 68m-deep bore hole at a Tuas West Extension construction site.

The Manpower Ministry's investigations into the incidents are ongoing.

There were three deaths from construction accidents last year, one in 2010 and none from 2007 to 2009.

Dr Ho Nyok Yong, president of the Singapore Contractors Association, noted that the LTA has quite a few infrastructure projects on its plate.

"Everybody is aiming for zero accidents," he said. "A lot of projects are happening in densely populated and confined areas, so safety is of the utmost importance."