Foreman gets 9-week jail sentence, company is fined $210,000 for accident that paralysed a worker

SINGAPORE- A construction foreman was sentenced to nine weeks' jail and his employer fined $210,000 for a workplace accident that caused a worker to be wheelchair-bound for life.

Foreman Sarkar Mithun of construction company Ava Global was supervising Miah Jobayed in installing ceiling panels at a National University of Singapore building on September 14, 2016, when a ceiling panel Mr Jobayed was standing on moved out of position.

He fellfive and a half metres to the ground, injuring his spinal cord and suffered permanent paralysis, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Wednesday (May 22).

Investigations show Sarkar had not obtained the required permit for installing the panels, and decided on the procedures and methods for the works on his own, said the ministry statement. He had also failed to ensure that workers wore safety harnesses or belts.

The ministry found that AVA Global, as the employer, failed to manage the risks arising from the installation, and did not establish a proper method of installing the panels.

It had not given Sarkar any installation instructions, and he came up with his own method of doing it based on his observations of how other companies had done the job, said the ministry.

Also, Ava Global failed to get the permit for doing hazardous work at height and ensure its workers were adequately trained and using personal protective equipment.

The director of the ministry's Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, Mr Sebastian Tan, said the incident could have been prevented if the employer and supervisor had taken the time to obtain the permit and had managed safety risks before starting work.

"There was no culture of care and trust evident at the worksite. As a result, a worker is now wheelchair-bound for life," he added.

"The MOM will not hesitate to take action against employers and supervisors who blatantly disregard their workers' safety and health."