A sub-contractor for the Bugis Downtown Line project was fined $100,000 yesterday for a worksite accident in 2012 in which two workers died after being buried in concrete, the worst MRT worksite accident here since the Nicoll Highway collapse in 2004.
The court heard that Sin Herh Construction did not ensure that a structure containing a mould for the roof of an underground linkway at the Bugis Downtown Line station had been built securely.
Neither had it ensured the safe pouring of the concrete into the mould.
Chinese nationals Dou Chunjie and Meng Huai You, as well as a third worker, were under the roof to plug a leak on July 18, 2012, when the scaffolding collapsed.
The two men died on the spot after being pinned down by the collapsing structure and wet cement. The third worker escaped with injuries, along with seven others.
Main contractor Soletanche Bachy-Koh Brothers Joint Venture was fined $70,000 on Feb 26 this year after admitting it had failed to ensure the worksite was safe.
It also did not make sure that the structures were inspected and certified by a professional engineer before the concrete was poured.
In handing down the $100,000 fine yesterday, District Judge Low Wee Ping said Sin Herh Construction was more culpable for the accident than the main contractor, though not to the extent argued by the prosecution.
He said the two Chinese nationals' bid to rectify flaws in the structure was "commendable" and added: "Unfortunately, they paid for it with their lives."
Pleading for leniency, Sin Herh's lawyer Lee Mun Hooi said there was no warning that the structure's safety had been compromised. The firm had not deliberately put the duo in danger, the lawyer added.
Manpower Ministry prosecutors Benjamin Yim and Mohd Rizal Ali called for a fine of not less than $150,000 to be imposed on Sin Herh.
They said the firm appeared to be "cutting corners" by not building the structure according to the approved design, and without using approved equipment and material.
This led to the structure being less sturdy then it should have been, they argued.
The incident also led the ministry to order work at the site to be stopped for about a month, the prosecutors added.
Sin Herh admitted that as a principal at the site, it had failed to take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of people under its direction on the worksite. It could have been fined up to $500,000 for this offence.
Nishimatsu Construction, the firm implicated in the 2004 Nicoll Highway accident that caused four deaths, was fined $200,000 in 2006.
This article was first published on May 22, 2014.
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