Fatal Tuas fire: MOM to appoint inquiry committee to study what led to explosion that killed 3

Three workers died and another five are still in critical condition following the fire and explosion at Stars Engrg. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
The SCDF said it responded to the fire at No. 32E Tuas Avenue 11 at about 11.25am. PHOTO: SCDF/FACEBOOK
Debris and damage to a building is seen following a fire in Tuas, on Feb 24, 2021. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
SCDF officers tending to a worker who was injured in an explosion in an industrial building in Tuas on Feb 24, 2021. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - An inquiry committee will be appointed by Manpower Minister Josephine Teo following the fatal fire and explosion in an industrial building in Tuas on Wednesday (Feb 24).

Three workers died and another five are still in critical condition, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Saturday.

MOM said the committee is expected to carry out a thorough study into the factors that led to the fire and blast at the unit occupied by Stars Engrg, a contractor dealing with fire protection systems.

The committee will also make recommendations including policy, regulatory or workplace safety and health measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.

It will be led by a district judge with two technical assessors, and its proceedings will be held in open court.

More details will be announced next week.

The three Tuas fatalities brought the number of workplace deaths in February to 10, prompting the Manpower Ministry to step up checks in high-risk industries.

Of the other seven deaths this month, three fell from height, three were caught between objects and one was involved in a work-related traffic accident.

The last time an inquiry was convened for a workplace accident was in 2004 to investigate the Nicoll Highway collapse that killed four people.

Ten people were taken to hospital for burn injuries. PHOTO: SCDF / FACEBOOK

In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad called Wednesday's accident one of the most serious workplace incidents in Singapore in recent years.

He said Singapore had made significant improvements to workplace safety and health over the last 15 years.

For instance, the fatal injury rate at workplaces was reduced from 4.9 per 100,000 workers in 2004, to 1.1 per 100,000 workers in 2019.

But he cautioned against being complacent.

He said: "While we have made significant progress, the recent spate of fatal incidents is evidence that we must never be complacent and maintain high safety standards.

"We cannot afford to let down our guard, because every life lost is a breadwinner and a loved one lost.

"I strongly urge all our industry stakeholders to continue to pay close attention to workplace safety as we restart our economy in a safe manner amidst the pandemic."

He added MOM will share its priorities for the coming year at the annual Committee of Supply debate in Parliament next week, where he will elaborate on the ministry's continued efforts in ensuring good safety practices at workplaces.

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