Jail, fine for food stall operator after maid lost four fingers in meat grinder accident

Lim Sheng Song was sentenced to two weeks' jail and fined $19,000 after failing to ensure the maid's safety. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - A domestic helper who was asked to double up as a kitchen assistant lost four fingers while she was using an electric meat grinder.

Stall operator Lim Sheng Song, now 59, was on Friday (Oct 8) sentenced to two weeks' jail and fined $19,000 after failing to ensure her safety.

The Singaporean pleaded guilty to offences including two charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act and one under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Details about his stall have been redacted from court documents.

The court heard that Myanmar national Su Su Mar was employed by his daughter Lim Sock Hong, 36, but never worked for her.

Ministry of Manpower prosecuting officers Mohamed Riasudeen and Low Shi Hou stated in court documents that Ms Su Su Mar stayed instead with Lim Sheng Song and his wife, Madam Koh Siew Imm, 59, from late 2017.

The couple told the maid to do household chores. Madam Koh also instructed Ms Su Su Mar to do preparation work for her husband's food stall business.

The maid, who earned $600 a month, did not receive extra pay for such work, despite being kept busy from 2am to 7pm almost daily.

The prosecutors said: "Mar's daily routine was to commence work at the residence for the accused's food stall business at 2am, take a rest from 7am to 9.30am, before resuming work from 9.30am to 7pm.

"Mar would also spend an additional 30 minutes to an hour per day to do household chores at the residence."

On Jan 31, 2019, Ms Su Su Mar was working in the kitchen of the couple's Loyang home when she used a butter knife to push a food mixture into the opening of the grinder.

When the knife slipped, she tried to retrieve it by placing her right hand through the opening without turning the machine off.

Its blades severed four of her fingers and she was rushed to the Singapore General Hospital.

Investigations revealed that the grinder had come with a plastic hoop placed over the opening that could prevent a user's hands from reaching into its mincing components.

The hoop, however, had been discarded after it got damaged. Lim Sheng Song was aware of this but failed to replace the hoop.

The machine also came with a push tool. It had a long handle and a circular base, allowing users to push food mixes into the mincing components.

The machine came with a plastic hoop and a push tool, but the hoop had been discarded after it was damaged, and the push tool was not used in the incident. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

Ms Su Su Mar, who had not been properly trained, used a butter knife instead.

The court heard that Lim Sheng Song has since forked out more than $70,000 for her medical bills. He gave her another $21,000 as compensation.

His daughter was earlier fined $7,000 while his wife had been given a stern warning.

Separately, he had earlier employed another domestic helper and the Filipina also unlawfully doubled up as a kitchen helper from 2015 to 2018.

The woman, who earned $800 a month, also did not receive extra pay for her contributions to his food stall business.

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