SINGAPORE: A company was fined S$250,000 for failing to take adequate safety measures for the works carried out by its employees - the highest fine quantum so far for a conviction under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (Dec 16).
As a result of the negligence, two of its employees were killed in an accident on Jan 22, 2014, added MOM in a news release.
The company, GS Engineering & Construction Corp, was engaged to build an 11-storey tower and an 18-storey tower with three basements at the worksite located at Ayer Rajah Avenue. The project commenced on Nov 23, 2011 and was scheduled for completion by Mar 23, 2014.
On Jan 22, 2014, two construction workers and three other co-workers were loading an air compressor onto a loading platform on the seventh floor of the 11-storey tower to shift the air compressor to the floor above, where it was needed. MOM said they were under the instructions of the company’s foreman.
However, the loading platform was not installed on the seventh floor. It was instead suspended at the edge by a tower crane via four lifting chain slings. When the air compressor was loaded onto the loading platform, it rolled away from the edge of the building, which caused the loading platform to tilt, MOM said.
The two construction workers, who were in the path of the air compressor, could not move away in time and fell out of the loading platform together with the compressor. The compressor landed on another loading platform on the fifth floor of the building, but both workers fell to their deaths, MOM said.
According to MOM, their cause of death was certified as “multiple injuries” which was consistent with that of a fall from a height. Investigations by MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Division showed that the installation, use and dismantling of the loading platforms used at the worksite were under the charge of the accused company and carried out by its employees.
The investigations determined that the accused company had failed to ensure that:
i) all workers were trained to use the Loading Platform;
ii) a safe system of work was implemented;
iii) no loose objects were on the Loading Platform; and
iv) fall protection equipment was provided to workers, which were safety measures stated within the manufacturer’s user manual for the safe use of the Lifting Platform.
For having failed in its duty as an employer to ensure the safety and health of its employees at work, GS Engineering & Construction Corp could have been fined the maximum penalty of S$500,000.
It was earlier fined S$150,000 before MOM submitted an appeal on the sentence, “as the accused company had displayed blatant disregard for the safety and lives of the employees under its charge”.