Site collapse: Two firms face charges

SINGAPORE - Two companies will appear in court on Thursday to face charges, following the collapse at an MRT worksite that killed two workers in July last year.

They are main contractor Soletanche Bachy-Koh Brothers Joint Venture and sub-contractor Sin Herh Construction.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is accusing them of breaching workplace safety and health regulations as well as failing to manage risks.

Besides the two who died, eight workers were injured when a roof being cast at the Downtown Line's Bugis interchange collapsed. It buried Mr Dou Chunjie and Mr Meng Huaiyou, both from China, in an avalanche of mangled steel and wet concrete.

They were reportedly under the roof structure. Engineering experts told The Straits Times that they should not have been there when concrete was being poured.

After almost 12 months of investigations, MOM filed charges against the companies on July 16.

Court documents show that Soletanche Bachy-Koh Brothers is accused of failing to take "reasonable measures to ensure that the workplace was safe and without risks to the health of every person within the premises".

It is also charged with failing to ensure the roof structure being cast was inspected and certified by a professional engineer.

Sin Herh, the employer of the two men who died, is charged with failing to take "practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of all persons who were working under its direction, and for failing to implement practicable measures to minimise foreseeable risks" they faced.

If convicted, Soletanche Bachy-Koh Brothers can be fined up to $500,000. For Sin Herh, the maximum fine is $500,000 for the first charge and up to $10,000 for the other.

Sin Herh could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Soletanche Bachy-Koh Brothers is "likely to seek an adjournment while we investigate the incident further", its board member Alistair Sim told The Straits Times on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the families of the dead workers have received compensation as required by the Work Injury Compensation Act. Each was given $170,000, an MOM spokesman said.

Since the incident, the ministry has issued a circular on Safety Requirements for Formwork Structures to address urgent safety issues. Formworks are moulds into which concrete is poured.

But last week, a worker in his 30s died when the formwork structure on which he was standing collapsed.

It happened at a construction site at the junction of Sims Drive and Aljunied Road, where Buildtech Construction company was constructing a light industrial building.

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