Manpower Ministry issues interim safety instructions to SMRT following death of two employees

The Ministry of Manpower has issued interim safety instructions to SMRT following the March 22 accident that caused the deaths of two maintenance staff members. PHOTO: SMRT

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Wednesday (March 30) issued interim safety instructions to rail operator SMRT following the March 22 accident at Pasir Ris MRT station which caused the deaths of two maintenance staff members.

In a statement, MOM, in consultation with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), said the instructions are to strengthen existing safety procedures to prevent similar incidents from recurring.

The instructions also serve to enhance the safety of staff when carrying out works on railway tracks, while investigations by MOM and LTA are still ongoing.

The instructions require SMRT to ensure the following when maintenance works are carried out during train service hours:

  • No trains should run in automatic mode for the sections of the track where personnel are required on the adjacent track walkway. Trains on such sections of the track should be operated manually, and at low speeds.
  • The section of the track where all works are taking place including maintenance or repair, should be isolated (i.e. no trains are allowed to approach) to provide a safe zone before any personnel is allowed to proceed to that area.
  • There should be robust authentication procedures between the personnel deployed on the tracks and the Operations Control Centre (OCC) to verify the track isolation.
  • Measures for isolation must be continuously in place until staff have left the work area and trackside.
  • Watchmen should be deployed to alert personnel on the tracks of oncoming trains from both directions of the track.

The measures will take effect from Thursday (March 31).

National Transport Workers' Union (NTWU) Executive Secretary Melvin Yong welcomed the safety instructions in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening.

Mr Yong, who is also MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, said: "These safety instructions would help give our train workers a greater sense of confidence and assurance as they continue to perform their duties to keep our train system running smoothly every day."

Last week, SMRT had released its own findings from an ongoing investigation into the Pasir Ris MRT incident.

SMRT said staff who are crossing the tracks must coordinate with a signal unit at the station for oncoming trains to be brought to a stop and to ensure that no trains enter the affected sector. It added that this procedure did not take place.

When the train captain saw Singaporeans Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, on the track, he applied the emergency brakes but was unable to prevent the accident, SMRT said.

The two men killed had joined SMRT in January and were doing their on-the-job training. It was Mr Asyraf's first time doing hands-on work in the field.

The rail operator said that it has established a team to immediately evaluate all workplace safety procedures and has also instituted mandatory work-team level safety reviews.

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