Firms fined over safety lapses that led to prime mover drivers' deaths

Mr Yu Hairui was killed when a 40-footer he was transporting flipped onto its side, crushing the cabin.
Mr Yu Hairui was killed when a 40-footer he was transporting flipped onto its side, crushing the cabin.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER READER

SINGAPORE - Two companies were fined for failing to take adequate safety measures under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. A prime mover driver from each company died because of the companies' lapses, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement on Thursday (July 20).

Cummins Asia Pacific was fined $80,000 for failing to ensure that the worksite allows prime movers to manoeuvre safely, and for improper implementation of a workplace traffic management plan.

On March 25, 2015, Mr Yu Hairui was driving his prime mover loaded with a 40-foot container on its trailer. His vehicle was on a ramp at CWT Logistics Hub 3 at 52, Tanjong Penjuru Road, when the container dislodged and toppled onto the vehicle's cabin. He died from injuries on the same day.

Investigations revealed that the driveway was congested at the time, and drivers had difficulty manoeuvring their vehicles and trailers. It was also found that at least one of the four twist-locks securing the container to the trailer was not fastened.

The other company, Woodlands Transport Service, was fined $130,000 for not repairing a prime mover despite the driver raising the issue of a faulty handbrake numerous times.

On Oct 9, 2015, Mr Yeoh Lim Koon parked his prime mover with a 24-tonne trailer load at the designated parking area on a slope at Telok Blangah Street 31. When he got out to disconnect the air hoses attached to the vehicle and trailer, the vehicle began to roll forward.

He tried to open the cabin door, but lost his grip and fell into a drain. However, the tail-end of the trailer caught him and dragged him out of the drain. The vehicle stopped moving after it mounted a kerb outside the worksite, and Mr Yeoh was found underneath the rear of the trailer.

Investigations revealed that despite Mr Yeoh raising the issue of the faulty handbrake multiple times, he was allowed to continue with deliveries on the vehicle. It was also found that the fault was never repaired as the company did not follow up on repair works.

MOM investigations showed that the bracket used to stabilise the air tanks in the prime mover was loose, causing a cut in one of the air tanks. The leak could have caused the handbrake to malfunction.

MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate Chan Yew Kwong said: "These accidents could have been prevented if companies did not compromise the safety of their workers... There is no business cost that can account for a life lost and MOM will make sure companies understand this fully."