Contractor fined $280,000 for lapses after gate fell and crushed worker to death

Sterling Engineering has been fined $280,000 for a fatal work site accident involving a worker who died after a large gate fell on him.
Sterling Engineering has been fined $280,000 for a fatal work site accident involving a worker who died after a large gate fell on him.ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A contractor has been fined $280,000 for a fatal work site accident in which a worker died after a large gate weighing about 1,500kg fell on him.

In a statement on Tuesday (July 18), the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the firm, Sterling Engineering, had failed to "take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees" during the incident, which took place three years ago (2014). The firm was fined under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Among other failures, an investigation by MOM found that the steel engineering company failed to ensure safety features were installed, such as temporary stoppers or other effective measures to prevent the toppling of the leaf gate.

The worker was identified in previous reports as a 41-year-old Bangladeshi national.

Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said: "This is yet another incident where an employer failed to ensure safety and caused the unnecessary loss of a life."

"In this case, the weight and size of the gate leaf alone should have alerted the employer to the safety risks that its workers were being exposed to when working on the gate leaf. A heavy fine was sought for this case to remind employers that they bear full responsibility for the safety of their workers throughout the work process," added Mr Chan.

The company was convicted after an 18-day trial.

Sterling Engineering was contracted for the supply, delivery and installation of a double-leaf manually operated steel sliding gate at a work site at Bartley Road. Each gate leaf measured about 4.68m wide and 3.1m high, and weighed about 1,500kg.

On the day of the accident, five workers were tasked to check the sliding motion of the gate leaves as it was not opening or closing smoothly. When they were pulling it, the sliding gate toppled and one worker was fatally pinned to the ground.

Work site safety has been in the spotlight recently. Last Friday (July 14), a viaduct structure near the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) exit to Tampines Expressway (TPE) collapsed, killing one worker and injuring 10.