Intern sues RWS for $460,000

Intern sues RWS for $460,000
PHOTO: The Straits Times

While working at Sentosa's S.E.A Aquarium, he lost his footing in a control room, fell on a travellator and injured his leg.

Mr Ignatius Tan Ci Zhen was 19 years old and an intern for his school industrial attachment programme when the incident took place on Jan 5, 2013.

The travellator runs through the control room where the buttons to operate it are located.

His left foot got caught in a gap between the moving travellator and the wall of the room. As a result, he suffered injuries, including lacerations and fractures to his left ankle and foot.

Mr Tan is now seeking damages from Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), and the total amount is estimated to be $459,500.

His lawyer, Mr Hoh Chin Cha from Hoh Law Corporation, filed a writ of summons against the company on Nov 22, 2013.

According to Mr Tan's court documents, on the day of the accident, S.E.A Aquarium had just began operations and RWS was having problems with the travellator as it was stopping too frequently on a daily basis.

Some staff, including Mr Tan, were tasked to station themselves at various points of the travellator to usher patrons and restart the travellator whenever it stopped.

To restart it, Mr Tan had to push a button on a switch box located inside the control room.

His court documents stated that there was a blue metal box placed on the floor, just after the entrance of the control room.

It occupied most of the space on the floor, "leaving very little leg space for walking or standing".

Around 12.15pm that day, he had just restarted the travellator when he fell on it and was injured.

Mr Tan's court documents stated, among other things, that RWS had failed to take measures necessary to ensure his safety at work.

Loss of strength

After the accident, Mr Tan said he was unable to walk normally and experienced loss of strength in his left leg. He also had difficulty with climbing stairs and doing manual work.

The damages are for areas such as loss of future earnings and cost of future medical and transport expenses. RWS is represented by lawyer Edwina Fan Yuen Chi of United Legal Alliance.

In its reply, it said that the accident was "caused solely or contributed to by the negligence of (Mr Tan)". The company added that on Jan 5, 2013, Mr Tan entered the control room at about 12.16pm to restart the travellator.

According to RWS' court documents, after the button was pressed, a warning sound would be activated before the travellator started moving slowly seconds later.

They also stated: "After the travellator started moving at the usual low speed, (Mr Tan) did not leave the control room and remained inside (it) alone for no apparent reason."

After using his walkie talkie to call for help, the teenager was found with his left leg trapped in the gap between the travellator and a partition wall.

Court documents added that the travellator moved slowly and for safety reasons, there were many emergency stop buttons located along it within easy public access.

Visitors, particularly young children, often inadvertently pressed the buttons, causing the travellator to stop.

The travellator was not defective, said RWS, but was in good working condition before the incident.

RWS' court documents also stated that Mr Tan had failed to observe the environment he was working in and had remained on the travellator after hearing the warning sound.

The trial will begin in the High Court on Tuesday.

This article was first published on July 11, 2015.
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