Lorry rolled into sea: Firm fined $50k over fatal case

SINGAPORE - A marine services company was fined $50,000 on Wednesday for safety lapses, following the 2011 drowning of a 37-year-old driver whose lorry had rolled off a barge and into the sea.

Trans-Island Marine director Ng Teck Hai pleaded guilty on the firm's behalf for failing to ensure that the way it transported the lorry from Pulau Sebarok to the Singapore mainland did not pose a risk.

Investigations showed that the company did not effectively tie down the lorry loader onto the barge to prevent it from moving and failed to ensure that the wheels were chocked. It also did not remind the drivers to apply the handbrake before starting the sea journey and failed to stop any person from remaining within the lorry cabin.

Trans-Island had been engaged by ASL Offshore and Marine to transport the lorry loader carrying 10 bulk containers of chemicals to Pulau Sebarok on Dec 10, 2011.

The accident, which claimed the life of Mr Lim Wei Kwan, took place off Pasir Panjang Terminal during the return journey.

At the time of the accident, the lorry loader - a big lorry with a crane to load items - was on a barge which was being towed by a tugboat.

Mr Lim and co-worker Shaan Seloras were seated in the cabin. After Mr Shaan got out to go to the toilet, the lorry began to roll backwards towards the ramp of the barge.

When Mr Shaan noticed this, he quickly alerted Mr Lim. But by this time, the lorry had rolled to the end of the ramp, breaking a chain meant to stop items from falling over. The sudden nature of the accident meant that Mr Lim did not have enough time to get out as the lorry plunged into the sea.

Mr Ng, who was at the scene when the accident occurred, said in mitigation that the firm, which has made more than 100 trips over the years, regretted what had happened. He also said when he saw the lorry rolling backwards, he called out to the driver to get down from the lorry.

The company could have been fined up to $500,000 for the offence.


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