SINGAPORE: Five people were jailed for falsifying a safety permit after an accident at a Tampines work site left one worker dead, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a press release on Friday (Jul 5).
Among them were project manager Chan Yew Cheong, who was overall in charge of work site matters, and site manager Wang Shiyang, who was responsible for safety, work progression and quality.
Both men were sentenced to 10 days' imprisonment. In addition, Chan was fined S$900 and Wang was fined S$7,500.
Qingjian International (South Pacific) Group Development Co, the contractor tasked with providing project management services at the work site, was also given a S$205,000 fine for failing in its duties as an employer.
CNQC Engineering and Construction, formerly known as Qingdao Construction (Singapore), has also been charged for failing in its duties as an occupier.
EXCAVATOR MISHAP LEAVES ONE DEAD
On Jan 25, 2016, Wang Shiyang, who was employed by Qingjian as a site manager, instructed site supervisor Zhu Yong Bing to construct a septic tank 3.6m-deep at the work site. To do this, a permit-to-work (PTW) had to be issued by Wang before any excavation work deeper than 1.5m could begin.
According to MOM, the construction site was in the area of Tampines North Drive 1/Street 61/Avenue 6.
Zhu Yong Bing engaged a licensed excavator operator to carry out the job without a permit, MOM said.
The excavation work ended on Jan 29, 2016 and he tasked six workers, including Mr Xu Shangbin, to get inside the excavation pit to erect formwork structures and rebars.
Later that day, the site supervisor decided to start concrete casting for the septic tank. He told Mr Xu and two others to get into the excavation pit so they could spread the concrete once it had been poured.
Zhu Yong Bing, who did not have a licence to use the excavator, went ahead to operate the excavator with a concrete bucket attached to the excavator’s lifting hook to pour concrete into the pit.
During his second attempt at pouring the concrete, with the excavator’s arm extended to reach the position where the concrete cement was to be poured, the excavator started to topple.
Mr Xu, who was inside the pit, was hit by the concrete bucket. He died due to the multiple injuries he sustained, MOM added.
SIGNING BACKDATED SAFETY PERMITS
MOM's investigations revealed that several people had signed a backdated permit form after a meeting at Qingdao's headquarters a day after the fatal accident.
They include workplace safety and health officer from Qingdao Zhu Xiaoyi, safety coordinator from Qingdao Rathinam Ramesh and project director from Qingjian Chan Yew Cheong. Zhu Yong Bing and Wang had also signed the backdated permit form.
"This was intended to give the false impression that a PTW was properly issued before excavation works were carried out on Jan 28, 2016," MOM said.
It added that before commencing any excavation work, Zhu Yong Bing ought to have applied for the safety permit to be evaluated by safety coordinator Ramesh and approved by workplace safety and health officer Zhu Xiaoyi.
The permit should have then been issued by Wang in his capacity as a site manager.
"However, as Wang had not attended the construction safety course for project manager at the material time, the PTW would have to be counter-signed by Chan for approval prior to issuance," MOM said.
"The falsification of PTW was uncovered following separate interviews conducted by MOM investigators with the five employees involved in the falsification."
"By signing the PTW, the five employees falsely declared that the necessary safety measures were put in place before excavation work began," the ministry added.
These safety measures entailed steps such as briefing workers involved on safe work procedures and ensuring they were wearing the required personal protective equipment.
“As key members managing the project and overseeing the construction works at the work site, the five employees were responsible for ensuring that necessary safety measures were implemented before carrying out the excavation works," Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate said.
"Not only did they fail to do so, they also wilfully misled MOM’s investigation by submitting a falsified PTW form."
Zhu Yong Bing, who operated the excavator without a licence, was given a three-month jail term for performing a reckless act which endangered the safety of others.
For their offences, Zhu Xiaoyi and Ramesh were jailed for a week for falsifying the PTW. MOM added that Zhu Xiaoyi's workplace safety and health registration was also revoked.