Manpower Ministry, Police Coast Guard investigating death of commercial diver

SINGAPORE - A 36-year-old commercial diver died on Wednesday while conducting diving operations under a container ship at Singapore's Eastern Holding Anchorage.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM), responding to queries on Thursday, said the diver was underwater taking photographs of welding work done on a vessel "when he was sucked into a space in the hull of the vessel".

The police confirmed they received a call about the incident at 6.48pm on Wednesday. The Singapore Civil Defence Force, which was also alerted to the incident, then deployed an ambulance and a fire bike to the scene. When the officers arrived, Mr Kwok Khee Khoon's body had already been retrieved from the sea and he was subsequently pronounced dead by paramedics.

The MOM spokesman confirmed that officers from its Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate were on-site to investigate the incident on Wednesday. "MOM has instructed the vessel's representative and the worker's employer to stop all underwater works on the vessel," said the spokesman, adding that the ministry is now working with the Police Coast Guard to investigate the incident.

Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, employers are required to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of their employees when carrying out work. "This includes work performed in the commercial diving industry," said the spokesman.

Convicted companies face a maximum fine of $500,000, while individuals may be fined up to $200,000 and/or jailed for up to two years.

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