Man, 48, falls to death at Lentor MRT worksite, safety timeout called to review work process

Staff from the Land Transport Authority and Ministry of Manpower were seen at the Lentor MRT worksite on Mar 1, 2018.
Staff from the Land Transport Authority and Ministry of Manpower were seen at the Lentor MRT worksite on Mar 1, 2018.ST PHOTO: ADRIAN LIM
When The Straits Times visited the worksite on March 1, work appeared to have stopped and day-shift staff were told to report for a safety briefing.
When The Straits Times visited the worksite on March 1, work appeared to have stopped and day-shift staff were told to report for a safety briefing.ST PHOTO: ADRIAN LIM

SINGAPORE - A construction worker died in an accident early on Thursday morning (March 1) at the Lentor MRT station worksite, one of the stations on the future Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL).

Work at the site also ceased to facilitate investigations into the incident - the third workplace fatality this year (2018).

The 48-year-old Malaysian man fell from a raised working platform 2.5 metres above the ground, while working in a tunnel connecting to the station.

The accident took place at 3.35am and the man was unconscious after the fall. He was later pronounced dead by paramedics at 4.30am.

Before tragedy struck, four workers had been dismantling a man-lock chamber of a tunnel boring machine following the completion of tunnelling works.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the chamber - which was being lowered using chain blocks - suddenly swung and hit the platform that one of the workers was standing on, causing him to fall from it.

Man-lock chambers, which can be pressurised and depressurised, allow workers to move into and out of the compressed air section of the tunnel.

Compressed air is used in the construction of a tunnel to prevent the entry of ground water into the tunnel, according to a Workplace Safety and Health Council guidebook.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said it was "deeply saddened" by the accident, and that it is working with the contractor to assist the worker's family.

"Following the incident, LTA also imposed a safety timeout to review work processes and is assisting the MOM and the police in their investigations," the LTA added.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it was alerted to the accident, which happened at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 5, at about 4.10am.

When The Straits Times visited the worksite, work appeared to have stopped and day-shift staff were told to report for a safety briefing. Workers told ST that the worker who fell had been on the night-shift.

The design and construction of Lentor MRT station and its associated train tunnels is being undertaken by China Railway No. 5 Engineering, which was awarded the $247 million contract in 2013.

Lentor MRT station is an underground stop which is targeted to be completed in 2020, as part of the second phase of the TEL.

Based on statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, workplace deaths fell to 42 cases in 2017, from 66 the year before. Deaths in the construction sector halved from 24 to 12.

The 42 deaths bring the fatality rate to 1.2 for every 100,000 employees - the lowest since 2004, when comparable figures were first reported.