Five months' jail for man who was supervisor during 2018 workplace accident that left worker paralysed

SINGAPORE - A man who was the supervisor during a 2018 workplace accident that left a worker paralysed from the waist down has been sentenced to five months' jail.

Lua Hua Keong, 66, who was with Lua Chan Electrical and Construction Contractors at that time, was in court on Thursday (March 25) after his conviction in January of a negligent act that endangered the safety of his workers, including Mr Ye Ko Ko.

The accident occurred on Feb 3, 2018, while workers from Lua Chan - including Mr Ye - were erecting part of a dome-shaped tent at a field in Ang Mo Kio.

Lua was the supervisor in charge of the 14-member team at that time.

Mr Ye and two other workers were supporting a part of an arched frame structure when it was being lifted manually to an upright position.

The structure collapsed when another part of it suddenly slipped, and Mr Ye was struck on the head. He became unconscious and was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Court documents state that the accident left Mr Ye with spinal injuries. He became paralysed waist down with his upper limbs severely weakened, and is now wheelchair dependent.

It was revealed that a proper risk assessment was not conducted before work started at the site.

The risk assessment document used was a template which had details such as "process", "location", "date" and "supervisor in charge" intentionally left blank.

These were filled in by another individual - who was not involved in the work - without any reference to the actual conditions at the worksite.

Court documents state that Lua signed off and approved the use of the risk assessment document despite not knowing its contents.

He also failed to check the condition of the ground at the worksite before instructing the team to proceed with the work.

The ground, which was wet and muddy, was found to have contributed to the structure's collapse.

Lua was also in a carpark away from the area and was not supervising the workers when the accident occurred.

In his submissions, Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Lee Kui Bao urged the court to jail Lua for at least six months.

"The accused failed in his fundamental duty as a supervisor to ensure the safety of all the workers under his charge," he said.

Among other things, the prosecutor noted that the workers were essentially left to their own devices to carry out the work without the necessary safety considerations and control measures in place.

On Thursday, District Judge Adam Nakhoda allowed Lua's request to defer his jail term to April 8 so that he can settle his family matters.

For his offence, Lua could have been jailed for up to two years, or fined up to $30,000, or both.