SINGAPORE: Kingsford Construction has been convicted and fined S$130,000 after it showed "repeated failures and recalcitrant attitude" towards workplace safety and health, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday (Aug 3).
MOM said in a press release that it had uncovered multiple, repeated safety lapses at the construction firm's Upper Bukit Timah site during an inspection conducted by its Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate on Jun 8, 2016. The firm is engaged to carry out construction works at the condominium Hillview Peak, according to the ministry's website.
During the inspection in 2016, safety lapses that had occurred in two previous inspections in 2014 and 2015 were again uncovered, MOM said. A full stop-work order (SWO) was issued as a result from Jun 8 to Jul 18 last year.
Lapses included open sides at eight different locations that were not covered or guarded by effective guardrails or barriers, staircases that had no handrails, exposing persons to the risk of falling off the edge of either side of the staircase and staircases that were not provided with emergency lighting for use in the event of a power failure, among others, it said.
The worksite had been inspected on two earlier occasions, in October 2014 and May 2015.
For the inspection on Oct 31, 2014, an SWO was issued after safety lapses, such as open sides and staircases without handrails, were found. The firm was given composition fines then of S$10,000 and the SWO lifted a few weeks later after rectification of the lapses, MOM said.
During the second inspection on May 21, 2015, the same lapses were identified and a partial SWO was issued. Kingsford was also made to pay S$19,000 in composition fines and the SWO was lifted on Jun 15, 2015, after rectification works, it added.
Given the "repeated failures and recalcitrant attitude" towards workplace safety and health, Kingsford was charged under the Workplace Safety and Health Act "for its failure to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees", the ministry said.
Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM’s director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said the ministry "sought a heavy penalty because of Kingsford’s blatant disregard for safety and its repeated failures to comply with our regulatory requirements".
"Companies must address all safety failures identified during a MOM inspection and put in place effective measures to prevent recurrence. They should not put their workers’ lives at risk and wait for an accident to happen before taking safety seriously,” he added.