Underwater World Singapore fined $105k over lapses found after diver's death

The court heard that the lapses had not resulted in Mr Chan Kum Weng's death.
The court heard that the lapses had not resulted in Mr Chan Kum Weng's death.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Underwater World Singapore (UWS) was fined $105,000 on Tuesday (March 23) over lapses in safety measures that investigators found after a stingray fatally stung one of its divers in 2016.

Among other things, the now-defunct Sentosa attraction had failed to provide adequate recovery procedures in emergencies during diving operations.

It had also failed to implement a system to document checks on diving equipment before they were used.

UWS, which was owned by Haw Par Leisure and ceased operating in June 2016, had been convicted of an offence under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

UWS admitted in a district court in January that it had failed to take necessary measures to ensure its workers' safety.

The court, however, heard that the lapses had not resulted in Mr Chan Kum Weng's death.

The 62-year-old man had been working for UWS for 25 years.

The attraction had appointed him to plan and execute the capturing of marine animals before and after it shut down.

Mr Chan and his colleagues were trying to catch a leopard ray around 2.30pm on Oct 4, 2016, when it suddenly attacked him.

A venomous barb on its tail pierced his chest. He was taken to the Singapore General Hospital, where he died around 3.30pm that day. The cause was a "penetrating injury to the chest by a stingray barb".

On March 1, 2017, then State Coroner Marvin Bay found Mr Chan's death to be a tragic misadventure.

Following the tragedy, investigations revealed that UWS did not document the safe work procedures for the capture of marine animals.

Mr Chan Kum Weng had been working for UWS for 25 years. PHOTO: ST FILE

Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Mohd Rizal had earlier said: "The said activity was mainly undertaken by (Mr Chan) and he would plan and execute the capturing works, which included briefing on the capturing methods he had devised, the allocation of manpower required, equipment needed and the foreseeable risks and precautions to take during capturing.

"Investigations further revealed that no standby diver was appointed in the case of an emergency... Should a diver encounter an emergency situation, such as loss of consciousness, it would not be picked up by the buddy diver immediately, as there was no line of sight or any form of lifeline provided."

For committing the offence, UWS could have been fined up to $500,000.