SMRT worker was checking for oil leaks just before accident

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was activated following the accident on Dec 12, 2018, and the injured man was taken to hospital, where the lower part of his right leg was amputated.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force was activated following the accident on Dec 12, 2018, and the injured man was taken to hospital, where the lower part of his right leg was amputated.PHOTO: ST FILE

Maintenance train rolled over his foot while he was on the tracks conducting his checks

The SMRT worker who had his foot amputated following an accident near Joo Koon station on Dec 12 was checking for oil leaks on the tracks when a maintenance train rolled over his foot.

The rail operator yesterday said the man was part of a six-member team that was preparing for a maintenance train to return to the depot after it had completed track tamping work. Tamping involves using heavy machinery to push displaced gravel back under train tracks.

The team was conducting a brake test on the maintenance train, which comprises one locomotive on each side of a track tamping machine, SMRT said. It noted that the test typically involves "limited movement" of the maintenance train.

The man - understood to be a 59-year-old SMRT veteran - was on the tracks to check for oil leaks from the maintenance train when it rolled over his right foot.

"The brake test was stopped immediately when one of the team members spotted the injured staff lying on the track," said SMRT. It added that the rest of the team then went forward to provide first aid.

The brake test is done to ensure that the locomotives and track tamping machine are properly coupled and that the brakes are functioning, said SMRT in its statement yesterday.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force was called in following the accident and the injured man was taken to hospital, where the lower part of his right leg was amputated, said SMRT. He is now in a stable condition, the operator added.

The team was conducting a brake test on the maintenance train, which comprises one locomotive on each side of a track tamping machine, SMRT said. It noted that the test typically involves "limited movement" of the maintenance train.

The accident - which occurred before service hours - delayed by about an hour the start of train service on the East-West Line in both directions between the Gul Circle and Boon Lay MRT stations.

The Straits Times understands that maintenance staff should normally not be on the tracks when moving vehicles are present.

"SMRT takes a serious view of this workplace accident. We are assisting the Ministry of Manpower's Occupational Safety and Health Division in (its) investigation," said the rail operator.

 
 

SMRT chief executive Neo Kian Hong said last week that a "safety timeout" - or a temporary halt to maintenance work - was put in place and a board of inquiry convened following the accident.

Last week's accident occurred more than two years after two SMRT trainees were killed by an oncoming train near Pasir Ris station in March 2016.

They were part of a 15-member team on the tracks investigating a possible equipment fault.

Investigations later found that safety protocols which would have prevented their deaths were not in place, and SMRT was fined a record $400,000 for the incident.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'SMRT worker was checking for oil leaks just before accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe