Painter who did not wear safety harness died after falling from second-floor ledge: Coroner
Mr Hoon Choo Han did not tell anyone of his plans to do touch-up painting at a Kembangan private residence worksite.
SINGAPORE: A coroner on Wednesday (Dec 14) found no evidence of foul play in the case of a painter who lost his life in a workplace accident in March.
Mr Hoon Choo Han, 62, was not wearing a safety harness when he most likely fell from the second-floor reinforced concrete ledge of a private residence he had been painting.
There were several previous occasions where Mr Hoon was seen standing on the house ledges, either painting or inspecting the external facade, without a safety harness or any protective equipment, said Coroner Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz in her written inquiry findings.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is contemplating enforcement action against the parties involved, the coroner added. She ruled Mr Hoon’s death to be an unfortunate work-related death.
It was among 28 workplace fatalities that occurred in the first half of 2022. There have been 44 workplace deaths so far this year — the highest since 2017.
In her findings, Coroner Sripathy-Shanaz outlined what happened on the morning of Mar 2.
Mr Hoon, who was a self-employed construction painter, worked as a contractor for Tamagawa Tech to paint the interior and exterior walls of 58 Lorong Marzuki in the Kembangan area. He began work in May 2021 and the project was due for completion in mid-March.
Other than reporting his progress to Tamagawa every month, he worked independently and unsupervised at the worksite.
Tamagawa had conducted a risk assessment for painting works there, specifically identifying “fall from height” as a hazard associated with painting activities.
MOM established and implemented several risk control measures to address this hazard, including making sure that workers working on the external scaffolding were wearing safety harnesses.
These procedures were made known to Tamagawa workers and sub-constructors.
MOM further found that Tamagawa did not tell Mr Hoon to do any touch-up painting work on the reinforced concrete ledges after the external scaffold was dismantled on August 2021. All work on the facade, including external painting works, had been completed by then.
Mr Hoon appeared to have been at the worksite on that fateful day to perform touch-up painting work. This was something Tamagawa was unaware of, and Mr Hoon did not tell anyone about his intention to do so, the coroner noted.
Around 11am, a domestic worker at a house adjacent to the worksite saw Mr Hoon painting the external facade while standing on the second-floor ledge without a safety harness.
Three hours later, a construction worker spotted Mr Hoon in the living room. This was the last time anyone saw him alive before the site foreman heard a loud thud around 2.15pm.
When the foreman found Mr Hoon lying on the ground and bleeding from his head, he called for an ambulance.
The paramedic observed that Mr Hoon was unable to respond to verbal commands, had a swollen head and appeared to have broken his arm.
Mr Hoon was then taken to Changi General Hospital, but his condition deteriorated and he died three days later. He suffered multiple skull and facial fractures among other injuries.
Following his death, the Workplace Safety and Health Council issued an accident notification reminding industry stakeholders to:
- Use a proper work platform for workers to work safely at heights
- Use a travel restraint system to prevent workers from working too close to open sides if it is not possible to use a work platform
- Provide each worker with a personal fall arrest system with a secure anchor point, if work near an open side is done
- Develop safe work procedures for the task and provide supervision to ensure workers are following the same
- Implement a permit-to-work system for any work where a person could fall more than 3m
- Provide and ensure workers put on the correct footwear, such as safety shoes with non-slip soles