Two companies fined over worker's death at Paya Lebar Square construction site in 2014

SINGAPORE - A 25-year-old Bangladeshi construction worker fell four storeys to his death after a structure he was standing on collapsed at the then-construction site of Paya Lebar Square in 2014.

On Tuesday (Oct 11), construction firm Low Keng Huat, the occupier of the worksite, was fined $125,000 for contravening the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

The company had failed to ensure that the formwork structures at the site were of sound material, good construction and adequate strength.

Formwork structures are temporary or permanent moulds into which concrete or similar materials are poured.

Low Keng Huat is the second company to be convicted over Mr Rahul Chandra Bhowmik's death.

On Aug 31, Hongplast General Contractors, the erector of the formwork structures, was fined $200,000.

The company had failed to ensure that the formwork structures which it had erected at the worksite was safe when properly used.

A district court heard that at about 1.30am on Jan 28, 2014, Mr Bhowmik and three colleagues were carrying out concreting works for the columns and beams of a skylight roof structure at the fourth floor rooftop deck of the building being constructed.

"The entire formwork structure suddenly toppled inwards into the skylight opening," said Ministry of Manpower (MOM) Prosecutor Delvinder Singh.

Mr Bhowmik, who was standing on top of a beam, fell together with the formwork structure and landed on the first floor.

His three colleagues, who had been standing on a work platform of the formwork structure, managed to jump off in time.

One of the workers injured his ankle and was taken to hospital, while the remaining two escaped unharmed.

Mr Bhowmik was pronounced dead on the spot by paramedics at 2am. His cause of death was later certified as head injury and skeletal fractures.

Mr Bhowmik had been employed by Yao Peng Yam Construction since Oct 3, 2009. The company had been engaged to carry out concreting works for the construction project.

MOM investigations revealed that the frames from the collapsed formwork rubble were severely deformed and fractured at multiple locations, said Mr Singh.

"In addition, there were some vertical frames which revealed signs of severe thinning at the fracture areas. Laboratory analyses of the fractured frames confirmed that there were pre-existing corrosion which was severe with significant thinning and perforation," added the MOM prosecutor.

The formwork structure of the skylight construction by Hongplast had also not been designed by a professional engineer.

The Paya Lebar Square construction project included the erection of a 13-storey commercial building, a multi-storey carpark and two basements. Construction work began on Feb 8, 2012 and was scheduled for completion by June 7, 2014.