Engineering firm loses appeal, fine raised instead

An engineering company which appealed against its conviction and sentence for a fatal workplace accident had its fine increased instead.

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

The Straits Times reported at the time that the worker was known to friends as Khorim.

In July last year, Sterling Engineering was fined $280,000 under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to "take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees".

It appealed against the ruling on the grounds that the design of the gate - which it asserted was the main cause of the accident - was not under the company's control.

The prosecution also filed an appeal to increase the fine.

While Sterling Engineering might not have been able to do anything about the design of the gate, it ultimately failed to meet the standards necessary for risk assessment and safety measures during the installation, said the judge.

Both appeals were presented before Justice Aedit Abdullah on April 9 this year.

The judge maintained that it is the company's responsibility, as supplier and installer, to ensure safety at the workplace.

While Sterling Engineering might not have been able to do anything about the design of the gate, it ultimately failed to meet the standards necessary for risk assessment and safety measures during the installation, said the judge.

The High Court dismissed the company's appeal and increased its fine to $330,000, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said yesterday.

Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said the company had a duty to identify all safety risks and implement the appropriate control measures.

"The company did neither and a worker needlessly lost his life."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'Engineering firm loses appeal, fine raised instead'. Print Edition | Subscribe