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Singapore

Company charged over 2 fatal workplace accidents, former factory manager fined

Company charged over 2 fatal workplace accidents, former factory manager fined

An overview of the Dec 26, 2016 accident scene at M C Packaging. (Photo: MOM)

SINGAPORE: A manufacturer of metal tins and containers was charged on Thursday (Jul 16) over workplace accidents that led to the deaths of two employees in separate incidents six months apart.

M C Packaging faces two counts under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to ensure the safety and health of its workers.

Its former factor manager Hew Poh Leong, 48, was charged last month over the two fatal incidents. He pleaded guilty on Thursday and was fined S$1,900.

The accidents occurred in June 2016 involving 33-year-old Chinese national Wang Meifang, and in December 2016 involving 53-year-old Singaporean See Ley Heo. 

ACCIDENT ON JUN 16, 2016

In the first incident, Ms Wang was cleaning an empty can palletiser machine on the morning of Jun 16 when she was caught in between parts of the machine.

Ms Wang was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital where she died from her injuries on the same day.

An overview of the palletiser machine and the Jun 16, 2016 accident scene at M C Packaging. (Photo: MOM)

The company, located at Gul Circle, is accused of failing to implement safe work procedures for cleaning and sanitising the machine.

According to court documents relating to Hew's case, workers are not allowed to climb into the palletisers during sanitisation works, but its employees were not aware of these procedures. 

A "lock-out tag-out" procedure to be done by trained technicians before sanitisation was also not implemented at the time. 

In addition, Ms Wang and a co-worker were working unsupervised - their supervisor and Hew only reported to work after cleaning and sanitising works were done.

Safety inspections by an external safety consultant were also ineffective as they were only carried out when all the cleaning and sanitisation works had ended, said court documents.

Hew was charged for approving an inadequate risk assessment for the company, for not ensuring that safe work procedures were implemented and for failing to arrange for supervision.

ACCIDENT ON DEC 26, 2016

The second incident happened on Dec 26, 2016 at about 11.30am. Ms See was hit by a reversing forklift while walking across the production area for her lunch break. 

She was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and died on Dec 28. 

M C Packaging at 159 Gul Circle. (Photo: Google Maps)

According to court documents relating to Hew's case, there had been four to five forklift accidents before this, but procedures for forklift safety were not reviewed.

Work activities related to forklift operations were identified in the company's risk assessments, but they were "vague and inadequate".

At the time of the incident, there were no fixed crossings for employees at the accident area and only "token barricades" were put up.

Companies found guilty under the Workplace Safety and Health Act can be fined up to S$500,000 for each charge.

In a media release on Thursday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the families of both victims have each received compensation of around S$200,000 from the work injury insurer.

“Control measures such as lock-out tag-out for maintenance of equipment and traffic management plan for forklift operations are basic safety measures that every employer should be aware of," said Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM’s director of the occupational safety and health inspectorate department.

"The company failed to put these in place and two lives were lost.”

Source: CNA/ic(gs)

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