Worker killed in accident involving soil compactor at Changi East worksite

A file photo of the worksite for the upcoming Changi East project.
A file photo of the worksite for the upcoming Changi East project.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A migrant worker died last Thursday (Nov 18) after an accident at a worksite for the upcoming Changi East project, which includes the construction of Changi Airport Terminal 5 (T5) and a third runway for the airport.

The fatal accident took place in Tanah Merah Coast Road, and the police were alerted at 8.05pm.

With last week's accident, there have been at least 34 workplace deaths this year, compared with 30 deaths in 2020 and 39 deaths in 2019.

The worker, an Indian national, was operating a vibratory roller, which is used to compact soil, when the machine toppled and trapped him in the cabin.

The 43-year-old was employed by INA Heavy Machinery and Equipment, which uses vibratory rollers that weigh about 10 tonnes, according to the company's website.

The pinned worker was pulled out from under the machine by colleagues, The Straits Times (ST) understands.

He was unconscious when taken to Changi General Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the police are investigating the incident.

No foul play is suspected.

MOM has told the occupier of the worksite, Japanese firm Penta-Ocean Construction, to stop all earth compacting works at the location.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) told ST that land preparation and ground improvement works were being carried out at the worksite.

The ministry and the contractor are providing assistance and support to the dead worker's family.

In 2014, Penta-Ocean and Singapore's Koon Construction and Transport were awarded a $1.1 billion contract by MOT to prepare the land in Changi East, which is reclaimed and made of soft marine clay.

The soil needed to be strengthened before T5 and the third runway could be built.

MOT said then that the works would be carried out over five to six years across the more than 1,000ha Changi East project site.

In December 2019, Koon Construction and Transport terminated its joint venture with Penta-Ocean, with the latter taking over the project. By then, it was reported that more than 90 per cent of the land preparation works had been completed.

In June last year, construction of T5 - which was initially scheduled to be completed around 2030 - was pushed back by at least two years to review its scale and design in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on aviation.

But the land preparation works appear to have carried on.

According to statistics released by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council on Monday, the number of workplace deaths has fallen over the past three quarters.

There were six workplace deaths in the third quarter of this year, including two from the Tuas Incineration Plant blast in September, compared with 12 in the first quarter and 11 in the second quarter.

The number of workplace injuries was comparable across the three quarters, with 158 major injuries and 3,061 minor injuries recorded between July and September.

In August and September, MOM issued 132 fines, seven stop-work orders and 1,312 notices of non-compliance after mounting a special operation targeting 500 workplaces in the manufacturing, service and construction sectors.

The most common breaches were open sides without fall protection, unguarded machinery, poor housekeeping, a lack of safety measures for workers on slippery or uneven surfaces, and a lack of safe entry and exit at workplaces.

The WSH Council said: "With the end-of-year festive season coming, we urge the industry and workers to remain vigilant and follow safe work procedures."