Two workers die at Keppel shipyard after structure collapses, throwing them off scaffolding atop docked vessel

The workers were at work on a scaffold that was built around a structure atop the docked vessel at 51 Pioneer Sector 1. PHOTO: ST READER

SINGAPORE - Two Bangladeshi workers died on Monday night (March 28) after they were thrown off a vessel that was docked at a shipyard in Tuas owned by Singapore conglomerate Keppel Corporation.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday that the workers, aged 30 and 42, fell onto the dock below and were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

They were among three workers who were at work on a scaffold that was built around a structure atop the docked vessel at 51 Pioneer Sector 1.

The structure had collapsed suddenly at about 10pm, causing a part of the scaffold to be flung out of the vessel and the two workers to be thrown off.

The pair were found motionless when police arrived after receiving a call for assistance at about 10.30pm. 

The third worker, also a Bangladeshi, managed to cling onto the structure, MOM said.

The 25-year-old was rescued by the shipyard's emergency response team and taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where he received outpatient treatment.

MOM said on Tuesday that Keppel Shipyard, a wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore and Marine, is the occupier of the worksite and the employer of the 42-year-old worker who died.

The other two workers were employed by Veekee Engineering.

MOM is investigating the incident and has instructed Keppel Shipyard to stop all works involving structures on board the vessel.

"As a general safety measure, companies should ensure that all temporary work platforms, such as scaffolds, are securely anchored," the ministry said.

Police investigations are also ongoing. No foul play is suspected.

A Keppel Shipyard spokesman said the company deeply regrets the tragic incident.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the families of the deceased and we are rendering our full assistance to them. Keppel Shipyard values the life of every worker and we are working closely with the authorities to conduct thorough investigations and reviews. As investigations are ongoing, we are unable to provide further details,” the spokesman added.

With Monday's accident, there are nine workplace deaths that have occurred this year. Last year, there were 37 workplace deaths, compared with 30 deaths in 2020, and 39 deaths in 2019.

The top causes of workplace fatalities last year were vehicular-related accidents, in which 11 workers died; falls from height, which eight workers died from; and fires and explosions, which killed five workers.

Releasing annual statistics on workplace safety and health on Tuesday, MOM said it intends to introduce heftier fines against offenders and companies that fail to ensure machinery is used safely, particularly in the manufacturing industry, in order to stem workplace fatalities and injuries.

MOM will also increase surveillance at workplaces with noise hazards and exposure to hazardous chemicals, and expand safety training for new workers.

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