SMRT worker dies after suffering severe injuries at work

Rail operator implements safety time-out, suspends all maintenance works as investigations are carried out

File photo of an SMRT train at Bishan Depot. An SMRT worker died on March 23 after suffering severe injuries while working at Bishan Depot. PHOTO: SMRT

A 30-year-old worker with transport operator SMRT died yesterday morning after suffering severe injuries in the course of his work at Bishan Depot.

His death prompted SMRT to implement a safety time-out and suspend all similar maintenance works while investigations are ongoing.

In a statement, SMRT group chief executive officer Neo Kian Hong said: "We are deeply saddened that one of our staff, Technical Officer Muhammad Afiq bin Senawi, had sustained severe injuries while working in a Rolling Stock workshop at Bishan Depot.

"He was operating a hydraulic press machine when the accident occurred on Monday about 9.20am."

Mr Neo said first-aid was immediately performed on Mr Afiq but he eventually died in hospital of his injuries at about 11.20am.

Mr Neo said: "We have conveyed our deepest condolences to his family and are rendering support and assistance at this very difficult time."

The police said Mr Afiq was unconscious when he was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

SMRT is assisting the Land Transport Authority, the Ministry of Manpower, and the police with the investigations.

Hydraulic press machines are used for various industrial purposes and can be powerful enough to crush cars.

The Manpower Ministry said Mr Afiq was using a hydraulic press machine to dismantle an engineering component when he was struck by a part of the assembly.

"SMRT Trains is both the occupier (of the depot) and employer," said MOM.

"MOM is investigating and has stopped the operation of the hydraulic press machine."

Mr Melvin Yong, executive secretary of the National Transport Workers' Union, said the union was deeply saddened by the death.

Mr Yong said union leaders were in touch with Mr Afiq's family to render the necessary assistance and support.

"Safety at the workplace is of paramount importance to our workers and the union will be working closely with SMRT and the relevant agencies to investigate what happened, and to review the current safety measures and safety protocols in place at the train depot," said Mr Yong.

Meanwhile, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a Facebook post that the accident was "most unfortunate and unnecessary".

He said Mr Afiq had worked for SMRT for two years, and that the operator has told him that it will do all it can to support Mr Afiq's family through this difficult period.

In March 2016, two SMRT trainees died in an accident along the train track near Pasir Ris MRT station.

Investigations subsequently found that the accident was due to a failure to impose safety protocols that would have prevented trains from entering the work site where a track inspection was being carried out.

In December 2018, an SMRT worker had his right foot amputated after it was crushed in an accident involving a maintenance vehicle on the MRT tracks near Joo Koon station.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2020, with the headline SMRT worker dies after suffering severe injuries at work. Subscribe