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Taking workplace safety personally

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The jailing of a former supervisor, culpable for two deaths resulting from the worst accident in SMRT's history, might provide some closure to the victims' families. But two broad points emanating from the 2016 case should not be forgotten. First, the tragedy - like the vast majority of workplace deaths here - was entirely preventable. Second, the negligence of an individual, charged with a direct responsibility, cannot be partly excused because of lax practices within an organisation as a whole.

During the year of that fatal accident, when former assistant engineer Lim Say Heng led SMRT trainees onto tracks during traffic hours, there were 66 deaths in all across the island. None of these should have occurred. Inattention to safety robbed young men of full lives ahead of them. Children lost their fathers, and one worker fell 14 storeys to his death just three days before he was to travel for his wedding.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2018, with the headline Taking workplace safety personally. Subscribe