Construction firm fined $130,000 for repeated safety lapses at Hillview condo worksite

Clockwise from top left: Open sites without guard-rails or barriers, staircases without handrails and poor housekeeping were some of the lapses found at the worksite.
Clockwise from top left: Open sites without guard-rails or barriers, staircases without handrails and poor housekeeping were some of the lapses found at the worksite. PHOTOS: MOM

SINGAPORE - Construction firm Kingsford Construction Pte Ltd has been fined $130,000 under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for multiple safety lapses at a worksite, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Thursday (Aug 3).

The firm, which was convicted last Thursday, had been engaged to carry out construction works of Hillview Peak, a condominium development.

MOM said its Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate conducted an inspection on June 8 last year and uncovered safety lapses that had occurred in two previous two inspections done in October 2014 and May 2015.

Kingsford was made to pay composition fines of $10,000 and $19,000 respectively due to lapses such as open sides and staircases without handrails (that could lead to fall from heights). Stop work orders (SWO) were also issued.

The most recent inspection by MOM - consisting of three residential blocks, two basement carparks, a swimming pool and other clubhouse facilities - found the following lapses:

  • Open sides at eight different locations (ranging from the 2nd to the 11th floor of various blocks under construction) were not covered or guarded by effective guard-rails or barriers to prevent fall from heights;
  • Staircases not provided with handrails, exposing persons to the risk of falling off the edge of either side of the staircase;
  • Staircases not provided with emergency lighting for use in the event of a power failure, exposing workers to the risk of tripping as some of the steps of the staircase were undergoing modification works;
  • Poor housekeeping at multiple places of work in worksite, exposing workers to risk of tripping; and
  • Safety interlock of several passenger and material hoists at the worksite were not properly functioning; the gates of the hoists could be opened when the platform was elevated from the landing position, exposing persons to risks of falling down the way or coming into contact with moving parts of the hoists.

A full SWO was issued from June 8 to July 18 last year.

Given its repeated failures and recalcitrant attitude towards workplace safety and health, Kingsford was subsequently charged for its failure to take "reasonably practicable measures" to ensure the safety and health of its employees.


An open side without guard-rails or barriers to prevent fall from height. PHOTO: MOM 

Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM's director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said: "MOM sought for a heavy penalty because of Kingsford's blatant disregard for safety and its repeated failures to comply with our regulatory requirements.

"Companies must address all safety failures identified during a MOM inspection and put in place effective measures to prevent recurrence. They should not put their workers' lives at risk and wait for an accident to happen before taking safety seriously."

 

Official statistics released by MOM and the Workplace Safety and Health Institute on Wednesday showed a plunge in workplace deaths and injuries in the first half of 2017.

Falls from height, however, was one of the top two causes of workplace death.

A total of 4,300 workplace safety and health violations were uncovered, with 28 companies ordered to stop operations. Fines totalling $500,000 were imposed on companies on the spot.

Kingsford Construction is wholly owned by Mr Cui Zhengfeng, a Shenyang-native from China who is now a Singapore citizen. Mr Cui made the news in 2012 when his company Kingsford Development made its debut in the local property market by outbidding six others and paying $243.2 million for a land parcel at Hillview Avenue to build condominium apartments, the same worksite that the MOM found safety lapses in the past three years.

Mr Cui also made the news in 2014 when he bought a plum Sentosa Cove bungalow for $33 million, which is the registered address of his construction company fined by the MOM.

Attempts to reach Mr Cui on Thursday were unsuccessful. A staff member at his company, who gave her name as Ms Chan, said he is overseas and he does not have a mobile phone.