Engineering company loses appeal over worksite fatality, sees fine increased

SINGAPORE - An engineering company which appealed against its conviction and sentence for a fatal workplace accident has seen its punishment increased.

Five workers from Sterling Engineering were installing a steel sliding gate at a Bartley Road worksite on Sept 2, 2014. While pulling the 1,500kg frame, it toppled onto a 41-year-old Bangladeshi worker, killing him.

The Straits Times reported at the time that the worker was known to his friends as Mr Khorim and he had a three-year-old daughter back home.

The company was fined $280,000 by the State Courts on July 18 last year, under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to carry out necessary measures to ensure the safety of its employees.

The company appealed against the ruling, claiming that the design of the gate - which it asserted as the main cause of the accident - was not under the company's control.

The prosecution also filed an appeal to increase the fine amount.

Both appeals were presented before Justice Aedit Abdullah on April 9 this year. The judge retained the stand that it is the company's responsibility, as supplier and installer, to ensure workplace safety.

While the company may not have been able to alter the design of the gate, it had ultimately failed to meet the standards necessary for risk assessment and safety measures during its installation, said the judge.

The High Court dismissed the company's appeal and ruled in favour of the prosecution, increasing the fine to $330,000, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday (April 17).

Mr Sebastian Tan, the MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said: "As the installer of the gate, the employer has a duty to identify all safety risks, including design-related ones, and implement the appropriate control measures to address these risks. The company did neither and a worker needlessly lost his life. MOM will not hesitate to take such errant companies to task."

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