Cleaning firm acts to protect workers against electrocution

ATL to install circuit breakers on water jets and change plugs following worker's death

The employer of a cleaner who was electrocuted because he did not wear safety boots while using a high-pressure water jet, has taken measures to prevent a repeat of the incident.

Cleaning services company ATL Maintenance will install circuit breakers on jets and work with suppliers to change its cleaning equipment plugs, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

At a coroner's inquest last month, State Coroner Marvin Bay urged workers to conscientiously stick to wearing safety footwear in a work area to avoid accidents.

Mr Kabir Mohammad Faysal, a 29-year-old cleaner, was killed in June while washing the floor of a residential block in Hougang with a water jet that was not properly wired.

He was barefoot, not wearing boots that might have insulated him.

"Immediately following the fatal incident, MOM had instructed ATL Maintenance to review their risk assessment and safety measures relating to the use of electrical equipment," said a ministry spokesman, who added that investigations are still ongoing.

IMPORTANCE OF BOOTS

The prescribed rubber boots not only prevent electrocution, but also provide a form of foot protection against inadvertent contact with the high-pressure water stream.

MR MILTON NG, president of the Environmental Management Association of Singapore.

"ATL has informed MOM that all high-pressure water jets have been checked and certified safe for use."

MOM is also working through the Bangladesh High Commission to facilitate the work injury compensation claim for Mr Mohammad Faysal's next-of-kin under the Work Injury Compensation Act.

The ministry said the company would change all cleaning equipment plugs to either rubber or ceramic, which does not crack easily.

Circuit breakers have also been installed on high-pressure water jets used in floor washing as an additional safety measure.

ATL Maintenance declined comment.

Mr Milton Ng, president of the Environmental Management Association of Singapore, said that operating a high-pressure water jet poses a potentially deadly electrical hazard for cleaners because of the use of electrical equipment in the presence of water, a good conductor of electricity.

He said under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Guidelines for Cleaning and Custodial Services, insulated rubber gloves and high-cut rubber boots as personal protective equipment are recommended to prevent electrocution in the event of faulty machinery.

"The prescribed rubber boots not only prevent electrocution, but also provide a form of foot protection against inadvertent contact with the high-pressure water stream," said Mr Ng.

According to the National Environment Agency, there are 1,200 licensed cleaning businesses which employ more than 56,000 workers as of Dec 31 last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline 'Cleaning firm acts to protect workers against electrocution'. Print Edition | Subscribe