Family of security guard who died after night shift work gets $137,759 in compensation

SINGAPORE - The family of a security guard who felt unwell at work and died later will get the $137,000 in work compensation after the High Court dismissed a slew of objections raised by the security firm he worked for.

The High Court allowed the family's appeal that a further hearing of the Labour Court as sought by the security firm be quashed and ruled the compensation sum was payable as at April 2 ,2013.

Judicial Commissioner Chua Lee Ming in judgment grounds released on Thursday (July 28) about this " unfortunate" 2012 case, said the firm P & P Security Services "has only itself to blame for having failed to maintain the necessary insurance in the first place".

"Employers who choose not to comply with the requirements of (the) Work Injury Compensation Act(Wica) have to face the consequences provided under Wica," he added.

P & P stand to pay the sum itself as it emerged the company had failed to insure and maintain the necessary insurance in relation to the guard, Mr Goh Yoke Lin.

Mr Goh felt unwell after working the overnight shift which ended on March 15, 2012 and went to see a polyclinic doctor who referred him to Changi General Hospital on an emergency basis.

He was warded but died two day's later of heart attack and a forensic pathologist's report said "it was more likely than not( on a balance of probabilities) that it was Mr Goh's activities at work which caused or contributed to his death".

Based on this, the Commissioner for Labour who had probed the case assessed the family was to be paid $137,759 as compensation under Wica.

But insurers for the security firm objected and disclaimed liability on the grounds that the policy with P & P did not cover the value of the contract between the firm and the deceased. This was accepted at a pre-hearing Labour Court conference in September 2013.

Wica laws require employers to maintain insurance against all liabilities that may be incurred in relation to their workers.

P & P had initially alleged that sex enhancing drugs may have caused the death but withdrew the claim as an objection in 2013 after a toxicology report showed no drugs were detected in the deceased's blood sample.

But last year, it obtained a cardiologist's report from Changi General Hospital as a new ground of objection, claiming Mr Goh's heart attack was due to a mysterious massive blood loss.

The Assistant Commissioner for Labour fixed a new hearing for May 2015 to hear the objection but the family, through Senior Counsel Michael Hwang and lawyer Johnny Chu, appealed to the High Court to set aside the hearing.

Among other things, they argued the firm did not file a valid objection when the assessment was made earlier and the Labour Court had no power to order the new hearing under Wica.

The firm, defended by lawyers B Sujatha and R Dilip Kumar, unsuccessfully countered that the insurer was handling the case under the policy and the firm did not have to file a separate objection at the time when the notice of assessment was issued, among other things.

JC Chua held that the insurer had filed its objection for itself and P & P had failed to file its objection to the assessment which became binding and non-appealable, based on Wica rules.

" The Labour Court ceased to have any jurisdiction to hear the matter thereafter," he added.

The judge dismissed P & P's bid for permission to appeal to the top court against his decision, pointing out any High Court decision on an appeal from the Labour Court is final, based onWica.