Prime mover driver jailed 20 weeks for not observing safety measures, causing worker's death

SINGAPORE - A prime mover driver who failed to observe safety procedures and caused the death of another worker was jailed for 20 weeks on Wednesday (May 11).

Muhammad Zulqarnain Boymen, 34, pleaded guilty to one charge of committing a negligent act that resulted in the death of a fellow worker, Mr Sivasamy Nethaji, 29.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that during the incident, which occurred on March 22, 2018, Muhammad Zulqarnain, a Singaporean, was tasked with driving a prime mover to collect an ISO tank container on a trailer in 5 Sungei Kadut Street 6.

An ISO tank is an international intermodal container manufactured according to the specifications outlined by the International Organisation for Standardisation. ISO containers can be used on ships, trains and trucks.

When Muhammad Zulqarnain arrived at the site, the tank he needed to collect was blocked by a second tank.

He reversed the prime mover to couple it with the second tank so he could move it out of the way. But he failed to check whether it was safe to do so.

At that moment, Mr Sivasamy, an Indian national, was standing between the two tanks to disconnect a steam hose from the first tank.

When the prime mover reversed, it pushed the second tank backwards, pinning Mr Sivasamy between both tanks.

He was taken to the hospital and died the same day.

MOM said its investigations found that Muhammad Zulqarnain had failed to observe safety procedures during the coupling process and the operation of the prime mover.

When coupling the prime move to the second tank, he was meant to activate the trailer brake and check that no other people were around, among other measures. But he did not carry out any of these checks before proceeding, added MOM.

The occupier of the worksite, Bee Joo Industries, has been charged with failing to ensure the workplace was safe and without risk to the workers. The case is still ongoing.

MOM's director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, Mr Sebastian Tan, said the incident is an example of how heavy vehicles like prime movers can lead to death when operated unsafely.

"It is therefore critical that drivers of heavy vehicles take ownership of safety and ensure that all safety measures are carried out properly, and not take shortcuts. The safety and health of our workers must remain a top priority, for employers as well as employees," he added.

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