Company fined $170,000 over death of foreign worker who was trapped under a pile of beams

Sheetpile Vibro Engineering was fined $170,000 on Thursday (Feb 4) over the 2014 death of a Bangladeshi worker.
Sheetpile Vibro Engineering was fined $170,000 on Thursday (Feb 4) over the 2014 death of a Bangladeshi worker.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A construction company was fined $170,000 on Thursday (Feb 4) over the 2014 death of a Bangladeshi worker, who died after a pile of eight metal beams weighing almost 7,000kg toppled over him.

Hasan Shahed was 24 years old at the time of the incident.

Sheetpile Vibro Engineering pleaded guilty to a single charge of contravening the Workplace Safety and Health Act, by failing to take adequate safety measures for work performed by its employees.

A district court heard that at about 11.30am on Dec 30, Hasan, another worker, and their site supervisor had placed the stack of eight beams for storage parallel to another stack of seven beams at an open plot of land in Kranji.

The taller stack was 1m high, and there were no supporting structures to stabilise either stack. Each beam was about 12m long and weighed about 870kg.

The site supervisor then lifted another four beams and placed them on the ground in between the two stacks of beams.

When he realised that the new stack of four beams was unstable on the ground, he used an excavator to lift them up.

He then instructed Hasan and his colleague to place a timber block on the ground, in between the two stacks of beams, for stability.

As Hasan was putting the timber block on the ground, the stack of 8 beams suddenly toppled over, trapping him underneath.

The beams were lifted by an excavator, but he succumbed to his injuries in hospital at 12pm.

Ministry of Manpower prosecuting officer Erdiana Hazlina said the company had failed to establish safe work procedures at the site, and did not conduct any risk assessment for works performed on the site.

The company had also failed to provide a safe working environment by placing stacks of beams very close to each other, and by not restricting the height to which the beams could be stacked , among other things.

For contravening the Workplace Safety and Health Act, Sheetpile Vibro Engineering could have been fined up to $500,000.