Call for safer rest areas for workers

Bangladeshi workers Nore Alam (above) and Anis were taking a nap in an area workers often used for resting, when a tipper truck reversed over them, then moved forward, running over them twice.
Bangladeshi workers Nore Alam (above) and Anis were taking a nap in an area workers often used for resting, when a tipper truck reversed over them, then moved forward, running over them twice.
Bangladeshi workers Nore Alam (top) and Anis (above) were taking a nap in an area workers often used for resting, when a tipper truck reversed over them, then moved forward, running over them twice.
Bangladeshi workers Nore Alam and Anis (above) were taking a nap in an area workers often used for resting, when a tipper truck reversed over them, then moved forward, running over them twice.

Safety experts, migrant rights' groups speak up; stop work order given at site where truck ran over 2 workers

Safety experts and migrant rights' groups called for proper rest areas for workers, as a stop-work order was issued for a construction site where two Bangladeshi workers were run over on Thursday while they were taking a nap.

It was the second fatal accident to occur at the construction site for the Thomson-East Coast Line Mandai Depot.

At the morgue yesterday, friends and relatives of Mr Nore Alam, 36, and Mr Anis, 47, said the two had just eaten lunch and were taking a break in an area workers often rested. Other workers were around when the incident happened.

They said a tipper truck reversed over the men, then moved forward, running over them twice. Police said the 54-year-old driver has been arrested for allegedly causing death by a negligent act.

It is not known if the site had a designated rest area.

In May, construction worker Riyade Hussain, 23, died after he was pinned under a metal beam that had fallen from a trailer.

Safety consultant Philip Au, who has more than 15 years of experience, said large sites such as this one in Mandai should ideally have a tent where men may stop for a drink of water and some rest.

"They need a proper place, one that is convenient and provides shade, so that they don't lie down on the ground," he said.

Transient Workers Count Too committee member Debbie Fordyce said construction workers need breaks because of the physical exertion of their jobs.

"This sort of accident should remind us of the lack of basic comforts and amenities provided for many men working in construction," she said.

Employment lawyer Julia Yeo said employers who are in breach of statutory obligations, including the safety of workers, can be fined up to $500,000, or $1 million for a repeat offence.

She said: "Employees too must play their part in complying strictly with safety measures and requirements."

Mr Nore Alam, who was called Salam by his friends, is survived by his wife and an eight-year-old daughter. He would send home more than half of his over $1,000 monthly salary, said his friend M. D. Shero 36, a construction worker. The two went to the same training centre in Dhaka before coming to Singapore seven years ago.

Mr Billal Hossain, 30, a facility supervisor, who went to the same college as Mr Nore Alam, said: "I can't do anything about it, but I still can't believe it. There should be more safety."

Mr Anis worked here for 20 years, and leaves behind two children, aged 13 and 15.

Both men were employees of Deluge Fire Protection (SEA). A spokesman said the firm is in touch with their families.

"We are also raising funds among the staff to help in whatever way we can," he said.

On Thursday, all excavation works and movement of tipper trucks were stopped at the location as the Manpower Ministry conducted investigations. Yesterday, a full stop-work order was issued, a spokesman said.

The bodies of both men are expected to be flown home to Bangladesh today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Call for safer rest areas for workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe