Worker crushed to death by 1,500kg gate: Contractor fined $280,000

A contractor has been fined $280,000 for a worksite accident in which a worker died after a large gate weighing about 1,500kg fell and crushed him.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the firm, Sterling Engineering, had failed to "take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees" during the incident three years ago.

The firm was fined under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Among other lapses, an investigation by MOM found that the steel engineering company failed to ensure that safety features, such as temporary stoppers to prevent the toppling of the gate, had been installed.

The worker who died had been identified in previous reports as a 41-year-old Bangladeshi national.

Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said: "This is yet another incident where an employer failed to ensure safety and caused the unnecessary loss of a life.

He added: "In this case, the weight and size of the gate leaf alone should have alerted the employer to the safety risks that its workers were being exposed to when working on the gate leaf.

"A heavy fine was sought for this case to remind employers that they bear full responsibility for the safety of their workers throughout the work process."

The company was convicted after an 18-day trial.

Sterling Engineering had been contracted for the supply, delivery and installation of a double-leaf manually operated steel sliding gate at a worksite in Bartley Road.

Each gate leaf measured about 4.68m wide and 3.1m high, and weighed about 1,500kg.

On Sept 2, 2014, the day of the accident, five workers were tasked with checking the sliding motion of the gate as it was not opening or closing smoothly.

When they were pulling it, the sliding gate toppled and the worker was fatally pinned to the ground.

Worksite safety has been in the spotlight recently.

Last Friday, a viaduct structure near the Pan-Island Expressway exit to Tampines Expressway collapsed, killing one worker and injuring 10.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'Worker crushed to death by 1,500kg gate: Contractor fined $280,000'. Print Edition | Subscribe