Tuas incineration plant explosion adds to list of fatal workplace accidents in S'pore

Most recently, an explosion at the Tuas Incineration Plant on Sept 23 left one man dead and injured two others.
Most recently, an explosion at the Tuas Incineration Plant on Sept 23 left one man dead and injured two others.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Fatal workplace accidents here have been on the rise.

There were 23 work-related deaths reported in the first half of 2021 compared with 16 recorded in the same period last year.

Most recently, an explosion at the Tuas Incineration Plant on Thursday (Sept 23) left one man dead and injured two others.

The three Singaporean workers were performing maintenance work inside the electrical switchroom when the explosion occurred, said a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesman.

About 80 people evacuated from the premises. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

An electrical switchroom on the first storey was found to be smoke-logged, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). It noted that the fire involved a chimney fan switch in the electrical switchroom.

The incident, which took place in Tuas Avenue 20 at 3.15pm, adds to a growing list of deadly industrial accidents this year. Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad had previously referred to them as a "very alarming trend".

A list of some recent accidents:

June 13, 2021: Worker falls 40m to his death


The construction site where the Logos Tuas Logistics Hub is being built. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM LOGOS SOUTH EAST ASIA/YOUTUBE

A 25-year-old Bangladeshi worker fell 40m to his death at the building site of an upcoming warehouse - roughly equivalent to falling from the 14th floor of a housing block.

He was working on the building of a stairwell at the site and was crossing the gap between its walls when a structure used to bridge the gap gave way, said MOM.

The authorities are investigating but no foul play is suspected, the police said.

May 19, 2021: Supervisor and worker die in ship's ballast tank


The supervisor had entered the ballast tank of a dredging vessel without wearing appropriate protective gear or checking if it was safe. PHOTO: WORKPLACE SAFETY AND HEALTH COUNCIL

A supervisor and another worker died after they entered a ship's ballast tank and collapsed in the confined space, likely due to lack of sufficient oxygen in the tank.

The supervisor, 31, had entered the tank without wearing appropriate protective gear or checking if it was safe. Some time after he collapsed, a second worker, 37, went in to help him, but also passed out.

A third worker, 39, also collapsed after attempting to help the pair, but the man was rescued in time.

The Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council reminded workers not to open manholes of confined spaces without proper authorisation and to avoid attempting a rescue without proper protective equipment.

The council urged that at least one worker inside a confined space be equipped with a portable gas monitor to ensure sufficient ventilation.

April 13, 2021: 23-year-old falls seven storeys


The mover was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics on April 5 at Watermark@Robertson Quay. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

A 23-year-old Singaporean mover plunged seven storeys to his death after he fell backwards from a ladder over a parapet wall at a 10th-floor condominium unit.

He was moving and disposing of furniture and electrical appliances at said unit, at 5 Rodyk Street in River Valley.

Feb 27, 2021: Worker dies after being trapped in an elevator shaft


The building in 450 North Bridge Road, where the worker was trapped in the lift shaft. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A Bangladeshi worker was conducting repair work on top of a lift carriage when it ascended and trapped him against the lift's guide rail structure in a building in North Bridge Road.

It took SCDF roughly six hours to extricate the man who was stuck between the lift carriage and the metal support structure of the lift shaft. The rescue team operated a slew of rescue equipment within the tight confines of the lift shaft.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

It was one of 11 work-related fatalities in February - the deadliest month with regards to workplace accidents since at least 2018 - leading the WSH Council to call for a safety time-out across the industry in order for necessary control measures to be implemented.

Feb 24, 2021: Three workers killed in Tuas explosion remembered in court


A fire investigation team at the site of the incident at 32E Tuas Avenue 11 on Feb 25, 2021. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Three men died from severe burns in 90 per cent of their bodies following an explosion in a Tuas industrial building on Feb 24. Ten other workers suffered burn injuries from the explosion.

The blast occurred on the premises of Stars Engrg, a contractor dealing with fire protection systems.

The force of the blast blew out the window panels in the building, caused the rear wall of the workshop to collapse, and ripped a large hole in the adjoining wall of the unit.

The blast was linked to a mixer machine that was bought from Chinese e-commerce retailer Alibaba in 2019. Leading up to the tragic accident, workers complained about oil leaks, heater damage and small fires in the machine.

The explosion damaged the mixer and its oil compartment was ruptured along the welding seams.

The three men were later identified as Mr Anisuzzaman MD, 29, Mr Subbaiyan Marimuthu, 38, and Mr Shohel MD, 23. They were remembered in a minute of silence during the opening of a court hearing on Sept 20.

Feb 10, 2021: Company director slips through hole in the floor of house being renovated


The man died after he fell through an opening in the floor and landed on a staircase 4.7m below at a house at 38 University Walk. PHOTO: ST FILE

In another accident in February, construction firm director Koh Kok Heng fell to his death after he slipped through an opening in the floor of a semi-detached house near Dunearn Road that was undergoing renovation.

The 53-year-old permanent resident, who was overseeing construction work at the two-storey house, landed on a staircase nearly 5m below.

He was pronounced dead at Tan Tock Seng Hospital shortly after.

His death was the fourth work-related death in the first 10 days of February.