Fatal accident avoidable: Court

A fatal industrial accident involving two Bangladeshi nationals who fell from height could have been avoided if safe work methods had been practised, said a coroner yesterday.

State Coroner Marvin Bay was giving his findings into the deaths of construction workers Rajib Md Abdul Hannan, 24, and Ratan Roy Abinash Roy, 28, who fell about 22m from seven storeys to the ground and died of multiple injuries.

The duo were employed by GS Engineering and Construction Corporation, which had been awarded a contract to erect Tower A and Tower B at Fusionopolis Way in Buona Vista.

The two were among workers assigned to set up a loading platform to move an air compressor from level 7 to level 8 on Jan 22, investigations showed. They were trying to push the 800kg compressor, fitted with two wheels in front and one smaller wheel at the back, onto the loading platform that was held up by a tower crane but not secured to the building structure.

But the smaller wheel of the compressor could not be mounted onto the platform, which was not at the same level as the floor slab.

Mr Roy and a few others voiced concerns that it was unsafe and impossible to carry out the task when the loading platform was still suspended by the tower crane.

A foreman from GS Engineering told the workers to continue pushing the compressor. The group decided to use a galvanised pipe to pivot up the compressor from the small rear wheel.

Mr Hannan and Mr Roy were standing in front of the compressor on the platform when the others finally got the rear wheel to mount it. The compressor began to roll towards the two Bangladeshis, who fell off the loading platform with it. The compressor landed on a secured platform about 14m above ground.

The coroner said: "If the platform had been secured to the building structure, the surface would have remained level and there would have been no gradient for the air compressor to build the momentum to roll off the loading platform.

"Ultimately, it was the sheer instability of the unsecured platform combined with the manoeuvring to load the air compressor that caused it to tilt further downward from the building edge, setting off the compressor's inexorable slide through the platform which Rajib and Ratan were helpless to prevent, causing their fatal fall..."

Mr Bay stressed that such accidents are avoidable if safe work methods are developed, implemented and, most importantly, scrupulously practised.

This article was first published on July 9, 2014.
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