Consider stiffer measures to deter work safety breaches

The worker who died when the uncompleted highway structure collapsed was 31 years old (Safety review at all road, rail sites after viaduct collapse; July 15).

He probably had a family dependent on him in China, who will now never see him again.

It is tragic when such a life needlessly comes to an abrupt end.

This is not the first time construction firm Or Kim Peow Contractors has been involved in such an accident.

Last week, it was fined over a safety lapse that resulted in the death of a worker in September 2015.

The Ministry of Manpower should consider stiffer deterrent measures to promote worker safety, including criminal charges against company directors when accidents happen.

The current system, which fines the employers and gives them demerit points, does nothing for the workers injured. Their lost limbs or lives cannot be brought back.

A company with a record of safety breaches must be required to have an escrow account with funds that will be awarded to any worker who sustains a serious workplace injury, or to his family if he dies. This should be in addition to insurance compensation.

In the latest case, I hope the injured workers and the family of the dead worker will get their payouts without undue delay.

It is the least we can do for these men who risk life and limb to build our nation.

Dipa Swaminathan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2017, with the headline 'Consider stiffer measures to deter work safety breaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe