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Supervisor jailed after worker died from injuries sustained during pipe joint repair

SINGAPORE: A senior field supervisor was sentenced to four months' jail on Thursday (Aug 19) after a worker died of injuries that he sustained while repairing a leaking pipe joint.

Muhammed Noredzuan Othman, 42, pleaded guilty to one charge of committing a negligent act that resulted in the death of a fellow worker, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday.

On Jan 1, 2016, pipe fitter and welder Chin Chee Cheng and his co-worker were tasked with repairing a leaking pipe joint along the pipeline of a high-pressure gas compressor on board a vessel. 

While Mr Chin was removing a clamp connector from the pipe joint, the connector dislodged and struck him. He suffered blunt force head and pelvic injuries, and was taken to the hospital.

Mr Chin died of his injuries on the same day. 

Further investigations revealed that the incident was caused by the sudden discharge of trapped residual pressurised gas in the high-pressure gas compressor, which ejected the clamp connector "with great force", said MOM. 

According to MOM, Noredzuan's employer Enermech was tasked by the vessel owner to conduct nitrogen-helium leak tests, including on the affected pipeline.

During the tests, Enermech would pressurise the piping system based on set test boundaries.

As the field supervisor, Noredzuan was required to walk through the piping system before the test to verify the test boundaries and valve positions, in accordance with a checklist as well as a piping and instrumentation diagram.  This is known as a line walk. 

MOM's investigations found that following the first commissioning test run on Dec 31, 2015, Noredzuan did not conduct the line walk to verify that the test boundaries and valve positions were in accordance with the checklist or diagram. Instead, Noredzuan endorsed the checklist and proceeded with the next test. 

As a result, one of the valves was not corrected to the "open" position, and pressurised gas from the first test was trapped inside the pipeline. This led to the sudden ejection of the clamp connector on Jan 1, 2016.

"By failing to conduct the line walk, Noredzuan's negligence endangered the safety of his coworkers, and ultimately lead to the death of Mr Chin," said MOM. 

The company that engaged Mr Chin for the repair works, Generco Engineering, was also previously fined S$180,000. 

The "tragic accident" could have been avoided if safe work procedures such as the line walk were conducted properly, said Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate. 

"As the field supervisor, it was Noredzuan's responsibility to ensure that such procedures were followed," he said. 

"MOM will continue to seek penalties against those who fail to implement proper safety measures. We urge employers and employees to learn from this case. We must continue to stay vigilant and implement proper safety measures to protect our workers from harm."

Source: CNA/lk


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