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HomesingaporeConstruction company director gets jail for falsifying risk assessment after worker falls...

Construction company director gets jail for falsifying risk assessment after worker falls to death

SINGAPORE: The director of a construction company was sentenced to three weeks’ jail for asking his manager to falsify the risk assessment and safe work procedures after an employee fell to his death, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday (Nov 8).

Yang Wei Qi Elijah, the director of Flux General Contractors, was sentenced on Oct 13.

In the Manpower Ministry’s October report sent out on Wednesday, it said that the construction company was contracted to erect a canopy and carry out flooring and waterproofing works at a three-storey semi-detached house.

The canopy works were then contracted to SK Hacking, which then subcontracted the canopy’s glass installation works to Verre Glass Construction.

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On May 9, 2019, Che Chee Eh and three co-workers were installing glass panels for the canopy when he fell from a height of about 3.2m. He was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic.

As a director, Elijah “was responsible for safety matters pertaining to the works”, said MOM. 

However, he left the management of the premises to Lim Har Kin Kelvin, a freelance sales manager employed by Flux Contractors General.

“Upon learning of the fatal incident on May 9, 2019, Elijah instructed Kelvin to falsify the risk assessment and safe work procedures by Verre Glass Construction to reflect (the) SK Hacking name instead, as he knew MOM would request for the documents following the incident,” said the Manpower Ministry.

Elijah subsequently admitted to falsifying the documents, and was sentenced to three weeks’ jail under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act.

“MOM takes a serious view of individuals who undermine investigation processes,” it said.

“In the case of Yang Wei Qi Elijah, he had failed in his duties to ensure compliance to safety standards at the work site and resorted to falsifying documents required for investigations.”

Investigations by MOM also revealed that Flux General Contractors failed to ensure that SK Hacking had the “necessary expertise and training to carry out the works”.

“Instead, Flux General Contractors had contracted it out to SK Hacking based on their working relationship on past projects.”

It added Flux General Contractors did not ensure that SK Hacking had conducted a proper risk assessment and implemented the necessary safety measures.

Flux General Contractors was handed a fine of S$50,000 (US$36,900) under the WSH Act on Oct 13.

Cases against other parties involved are ongoing. They comprise SK Hacking and its director Samuel Lim Chee Peng, as well as the sole proprietor of Verre Glass Construction, Desmond Tan Chee Keong.

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OTHER ACCIDENTS

MOM noted in its report that vehicular and machinery-related incidents, and falls from height were among the top causes for fatal and major injuries in the first half of 2023.

Another case in MOM’s October report involved Kim Hock Corporation, a company that processes scrap metal for overseas export.

It was fined S$240,000 on Oct 13 following a fatal incident, which happened on Feb 24, 2020 when a team of workers were performing maintenance work on a machine used to cut scrap metal.

One of them, Uttom, was operating the machine via a mobile panel while another co-worker, Karuppaiah Selvaraj, was observing the machine.

“When prompted to activate the machine, Uttom wrongly pressed a button that instead caused the machine’s door to pin the deceased (Karuppaiah Selvaraj) against the machine,” said MOM.

MOM’s investigations revealed that the procedures implemented by Kim Hock Corporation “were not aligned with what was required in the machine’s manual, such as ensuring the machine was de-energised and locked-out before approaching it”.

The firm also did not establish adequate safe work procedures for employees and ensure they were provided with adequate training and instruction beforehand.

The case against Uttom is ongoing, said MOM.

Another company taken to task was Chew’s Agriculture, a poultry farm involved in livestock production, wholesale of livestock, manufacturing, processing, and packing of eggs.

On Oct 26, the company was fined S$185,000 after a worker, Lim Teck Huat, was run over by a truck while performing traffic controller duties on Aug 16, 2022.

MOM’s investigations revealed that Chew’s Agriculture failed to identify and mitigate the risk of collision between vehicles and its employees performing traffic controller duties.

The company did not implement any traffic management plan, while traffic controllers were not wearing the required safety vests, said MOM, adding that it failed to ensure employees performing such duties were trained to do so.

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