SINGAPORE: A company has been fined and a supervisor jailed after a worker fell more than 5m was left permanently disabled in a workplace accident, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday (May 22).
AVA Global was fined S$210,000 for failing to take steps to ensure the safety its employees, while construction foreman Sarkar Mithun was sentenced to nine weeks' jail for negligence.
The accident happened on Sep 14, 2016.
Sarkar was tasked to supervise the installation of tubular ceiling panels at a building belonging to National University of Singapore.
According to MOM, AVA Global did not give Sarkar any installation instructions.
"Sarkar decided on the method of installation himself, based on his observations on how the panels were installed previously by a different company," said the ministry.
READ: 16 weeks' jail for site supervisor who coerced worker to take blame for fatal workplace accident
A worker, Miah Jobayed, used a boom lift to get to the ceiling. He stood on a steel structure above the ceiling panel without using any fall protection equipment.
Jobayed later moved to stand on one of the previously installed ceiling panels as his supervisor and another worker tried to align a new panel into position.
However, the panel that Jobayed was standing on dislodged and swung downwards, causing him to fall 5.5m to the ground, said MOM.
He underwent surgery at National University Hospital, but a spinal cord injury left him in permanent paralysis. He is now wheelchair-bound, said MOM.
The jail term for Sakar is the second custodial sentence imposed on a supervisor for a negligent act at a workplace, said MOM, adding that he did not obtain a permit-to-work before carrying out the installation.
Supervisors must obtain the permit from an authorised manager before starting work that is more than 3m above ground. The permit allows for an independent safety evaluation on the procedures and methods involved in the work to be done before it starts.
"Supervisors have a duty to ensure a safe working environment for workers under their care and forbid unsafe work practices that may put them at risk," it added.
"In this instance, there was no culture of care and trust evident at the worksite," said MOM’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate Sebastian Tan.
"The MOM will not hesitate to take action against employers and supervisors who blatantly disregard their workers’ safety and health.”