Cleaner dies after lorry reverses into him in Hougang; workplace deaths surpass 2021 figure

The incident happened at a loading bay at Hougang 1 shopping mall at around 9.50am on Wednesday. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

SINGAPORE - A 69-year-old cleaner was killed after a lorry reversed into him at a loading bay at Hougang 1 shopping mall on Wednesday - the 38th workplace death of 2022.

The incident happened at around 9.50am, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday, which added that the Singaporean man was employed by Avon Cleaning Services.

The lorry driver, 25, was arrested for careless driving causing death, said the police. Investigations were ongoing.

With the latest incident, the number of workplace deaths in 2022 has surpassed figures recorded in 2021, which saw 37 fatalities.

MOM said the cleaner died from his injuries at Sengkang General Hospital. The Straits Times understands that the driver of the lorry is not employed by Avon Cleaning Services.

In response to queries, a representative from Avon Group said the vehicle suspected to be involved in the incident did not belong to them. 

The representative said the cleaner was hardworking and well-liked. 

"We are still deeply saddened by the incident, and we hereby express our deepest condolences to the family. We are reaching out to the family to provide whatever assistance we can during this period," he added. 

Said MOM: "As a general safety measure, drivers of reversing vehicles must be alert to pedestrians or other workers straying into their vehicles' blind spots.

"Where possible, they should seek help to guide them in reversing their vehicles."

The ministry added that workers should also stay vigilant and keep a proper lookout for any moving vehicles while at work.

In a separate incident, MOM said a 43-year-old Bangladeshi worker was injured on Oct 3 after falling from a height of about 10m.

He was working on the third storey of a building at 9 Cuscaden Road.

The property was previously owned by descendants of philanthropist Tan Tock Seng and put up for sale in 2016.

Shun Tak Holdings, a company founded by billionaire Stanley Ho, paid $145 million for the property.

MOM said the Bangladeshi national was sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital conscious at around 2.40pm.

His employer Nakano Singapore, which was the occupier of the site, was issued with an order to stop all works involving scaffolds and working at heights at the worksite.

The two incidents come amid a six-month heightened safety period imposed by MOM from Sept 1, following a rise in work-related deaths and injuries.

Vehicular accidents were the top cause of workplace deaths in 2022, accounting for one in three of the first 36 fatalities.

During this period, which can be extended if necessary, companies will be barred from hiring new foreign workers for up to three months if unsafe work conditions or poor risk controls are found following serious and fatal workplace accidents.

Companies in higher risk sectors will also have to conduct a safety time-out, which has been made mandatory for the first time.

The move affects all companies in the construction, manufacturing, marine, process or transport and storage industries, as well as companies in other industries which use heavy or industrial vehicles, such as lorries and forklifts.

In announcing the heightened safety period, MOM said the chief executives of companies will also have to personally account for the lapses and take responsibility for rectifications.

They can be prosecuted if they are culpable for lapses, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad had said in Parliament in August.

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