Crane technician wins $346k in damages after worksite accident

He survived 52m plunge but 6 years on, he still suffers pain all over body

A crane technician who miraculously survived a 52m plunge from a work platform that dislodged from the mast of a tower crane was awarded some $346,000 in damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenities, current and future medical costs, and loss of earnings.

A six-day High Court hearing, scheduled to start yesterday to assess the damages payable to technician Wong Lim Kang, ended on day one when all three defendants mutually agreed on the sums to be paid based on their share of liability.

Mr Wong, a Malaysian, had brought a negligence suit against crane supplier Soon Douglas and subcontractor FES Engineering, which tasked the 46-year-old to carry out the jacking of a mast on the tower crane at the worksite.

The third defendant, Novelty Builders, was the main contractor of the construction project site at River Valley Grove.

Liability for the worksite accident among all parties had been hammered out last year in mediation talks brokered by Senior Judge Lai Siu Chiu. The three defendants agreed to accept 88.75 per cent share of the blame with 41.25 per cent apportioned to FES, 36.25 per cent to Soon Douglas and 11.25 per cent to Novelty Builders. Mr Wong accepted the remaining 11.25 per cent share.

This was done before High Court Justice George Wei last April.

Mr Wong had sustained serious multiple fractures, including neck and organ injuries, and remained unconscious for two days in hospital and took a year's medical leave.

The multiple fractures on his body affected his spine, pelvic area and rib, and the injuries affected his hand, shoulder, buttock and groin areas as well.

It is understood that he survived the 52m plunge when he landed on a waste plastic bin which cushioned his fall in the April 13, 2010 accident in River Valley Grove.

It emerged that the work platform on which Mr Wong stood was not properly secured to the tower crane, leading to the accident, according to court documents filed by his lawyer N. Srinivasan from Hoh Law Corporation.

Novelty Builders, defended by lawyers Niru Pillai and Priya Pillay, had argued that Mr Wong had contributed to the accident, as being a skilled team leader, he should have anchored his safety harness onto the mast of the tower crane, but instead, had hooked onto the railing of the platform. As a result, he was dragged down when the platform fell. Mr Wong denied this.

FES was defended by lawyer Michael Eu, while Soon Douglas was represented by lawyers Charles Phua and Charlene Chee.

Six years on, the father of three continues to suffer significant pain in his neck, chest, shoulders and limbs, among other ailments. He is unable to squat, jump or run.

He was alone on the platform at the time to facilitate the installation of a trolley jacking platform, which has to be done at the top of the crane's mast first.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2017, with the headline 'Crane technician wins $346k in damages after worksite accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe