Prosecution appealing against sentence meted out to company over two workers' deaths

The prosecution urged a district court to double the fine meted out to GS Engineering and Construction Corporation over the deaths of two foreign workers.
The prosecution urged a district court to double the fine meted out to GS Engineering and Construction Corporation over the deaths of two foreign workers.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The prosecution is appealing against the $150,000 fine meted out to a construction company in September 2015 over the deaths of two foreign workers.

It had urged a district court to impose a fine at least double that amount.

In a statement on Tuesday (May 3), the Attorney-General's Chambers said: "A deterrent sentence was necessary to create much-needed awareness in the construction industry that punishment will be certain and unrelenting for employers who adopt cavalier attitudes towards workplace safety and health, resulting in the preventable loss of human life."

In January 2014, Bangladeshi nationals Rajib Md Abdul Hannan, 24, and Ratan Roy Abinash Roy, 28, fell about 22m from seven storeys to the ground and died of multiple injuries.

They were employed by GS Engineering and Construction Corporation, which had been awarded a contract to build Tower A and Tower B at Fusionopolis Way in Buona Vista.

The duo were among a group of workers assigned to set up a loading platform to move an air compressor from level 7 to level 8 on Jan 22. They were trying to push the 800kg compressor, fitted with two wheels in front and one smaller wheel at the back, onto the loading platform that was held up by a tower crane but not secured to the building structure.

But the smaller wheel of the compressor could not be mounted onto the platform, which was not at the same level as the floor slab.

Mr Roy and a few others voiced concerns that it was unsafe and impossible to carry out the task when the loading platform was still suspended by the tower crane.

A foreman from GS Engineering told the workers to continue pushing the compressor. The group decided to use a galvanised pipe to pivot up the compressor from the small rear wheel.

Mr Hannan and Mr Roy were standing in front of the compressor on the platform when the others finally got the rear wheel to mount it.

The compressor began to roll towards the two Bangladeshis, who fell off the loading platform with it. The compressor landed on a secured platform about 14m above ground.

In July 2014, a coroner's court found that the fatal accident could have been avoided if safe work methods had been practised.

"If the platform had been secured to the building structure, the surface would have remained level and there would have been no gradient for the air compressor to build the momentum to roll off the loading platform," said State Coroner Marvin Bay.

In September 2015, their company G S Engineering and Construction Corporation was fined $150,000 after it pleaded guilty to a charge of contravening the Workplace Safety and Health Act, for failing to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees.

The prosecution had, however, asked for a fine of at least $300,000 for the offence, which carries a maximum punishment of $500,000.