CGW Construction fined $150,000 for failing to ensure safety of its workers

CGW Construction fined $150,000 for failing to ensure safety of its workers
The photographs show the building under construction where the accident occurred. The left photo shows the entrance to the staircase while the right one shows where the deceased landed at the service landing pit.

CGW Construction Pte Ltd (CGW), a construction company, was fined $150,000 in the Subordinate Courts today for failing to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety and health of its workers, resulting in a fatal accident at a construction site on Oct 25, 2012.

In the accident, an employee of CGW fell from the open side of a staircase landing on the second floor to his death about 6.4m below. At that time, CGW was engaged as a sub-contractor for the occupier of the worksite, Hyundai Construction and Engineering ("Hyundai").

MOM's investigations revealed that CGW:

a. Failed to deploy guard rails erected on the open side of the stairwell at the time of the accident although their Risk Assessment and Safe Work Procedures had stipulated that guard rails were to be installed.

b. Did not provide lifelines for workers to anchor their safety harnesses to, although the agreement between the Hyundai and CGW stated that it was CGW's responsibility to do so.

c. Had started work on the stairwell although the Permit-To-Work application had not been approved by Hyundai.

CGW pleaded guilty today before District Judge Ronald Gwee in the Subordinate Courts and was fined $150,000.

CGW was previously convicted under the WSH Act in 2011 and was fined $50,000.

In a press statement, MOM said the fine is the highest imposed on an employer for an offence under Section 12 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act and sets a sentencing benchmark for future cases under that section of the Act.

Here is the statement of facts issued by MOM's prosecutor:

On 25 Oct 2012, at about 0800hrs, a fatal accident involving a worker, Zhou Shi Hong ("the Deceased"), occurred at LOT: 00858 MK: TS11 at Beach Road (South Beach), which was a workplace within the meaning of the Workplace Safety and Health Act (Chapter 354A). Inspectors from the Ministry of Manpower received notification of the accident at about 1100hrs and reached the accident location at 1300 hrs on the same day.

The Deceased was an employee of CGW Construction & Engineering (S) Pte Ltd of 701 Sims Drive #02-03 LHK Building Singapore 387383 ("accused company"). At the material time, he was tasked to erect a work platform for a column formwork at the ground floor outside the building under construction. He went into the staircase formwork where he fell over an open side of the formwork and landed at the basement level through a riser opening. The cause of his death was certified as "multiple injuries".

Investigations

During the material time, the accused company was the Employer of the deceased. The accused company was engaged by Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co Ltd ("the Occupier") to carry out reinforced concrete works for the project at the said site.

On 25 Oct 2012 at about 0715hrs, Chen Yang, Shi Qing and the Deceased reported to work at the worksite. Chen Yang and Shi Qing were tasked to continue with the erection of the formwork for a staircase while the Deceased was assigned to erect a work platform for a column formwork at the ground floor outside the building of the accident scene

After they had finished erecting the formwork for the mid-landing, Shi Qing notified Xu Han Qing to arrange workers to install guard rails for the open sides around the mid-landing formwork. Chen Yang and Shi Qing then proceeded to erect the formwork shoring for the flight of staircase leading from the mid landing to 2nd storey.

At about 0800hrs, Chen Yang was at the mid-landing formwork when the Deceased approached him to ask for some concrete nails. Shi Qing, who was on the 2nd storey landing formwork, heard the Deceased and replied that they did not have any concrete nails. Shi Qing saw the Deceased bending down to search among the nails in a pail beside Chen Yang. After searching for some time, the Deceased stood up and was about to leave when he suddenly lost his balance and fell backwards, over the open side and into the riser opening. Shi Qing immediately shouted that the Deceased had fallen. Chen Yang looked into the opening and saw that the Deceased had landed on a service landing at Basement 1, about 6,4m below.

Investigations established that the accused company had conducted risk assessments on formwork erection activities and had developed safety procedures for the same. Based on the risk assessment, control measures to eliminate/mitigate risks of falling from height during the formwork erection included providing lifelines to secure the workers' safety harnesses when working at height as well as the provision of barricades and proper working access. The sub-contract between the Occupier and the accused company specified that the accused company had to install lifelines for workers to anchor to during formwork erections. It was however established that prior to the accident, no guard rail or lifeline was installed at the open side of the mid-landing formwork to protect against falls.

Offence

Failure to provide lifelines and barricades

As an Employer, the accused company had conducted risk assessments and established safe work procedures for formwork erection. Specifically, one of their control measures to protect against falls was to provide lifelines to secure the workers' safety harnesses when working at heights. Investigations established that at the time of the erection of the staircase formwork, no lifeline was installed at the open side of the mid-landing formwork to protect against falls.

It was also revealed during investigations that no barricades had been installed at the open end of the staircase form work which would have prevented the deceased from falling over.

Barricades in the form of two guard rails as well as lifelines were found erected when MOM investigators inspected the premises on the same day after the accident had occurred. It was later verified that these were erected after the accident.

No Permit to Work

It was also established that although the accused company had submitted an application for a Permit-to-Work at the accident location to the occupier, the accused company had began work at the said accident site before the said Permit was approved by the occupier. This effectively renders the Premit-to-Work system ineffective.

The accused company has therefore failed to take all measures as are reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of its employees at work and has caused the death of the deceased. The accused company is charged accordingly under Section 12(1) read with Section 20 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, and punishable under Section 50(b) of the same Act.

spanaech@sph.com.sg

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