A project director and four others in Singapore have been sentenced to jail under the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Act for falsifying a permit-to-work (PTW), in connection with a fatal accident at a Tampines construction site in January 2016.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the director was further fined S$900, while the site manager who was responsible for safety, work progression and quality, was fined S$7,500.

At the same time, the contractor involved - Qingjian International (South Pacific) Group Development Co, has been fined S$205,000 for "failing it its duties as an employer under section 20 r/w section 12(1) of the WSH Act", MOM stated.

Further, CNQC Engineering & Construction [formerly Qingdao Construction (Singapore)] has been charged for "failing in its duties as an occupier under section 20 r/w section 11(a) of the WSH Act."

A brief background on the case

On 25 January 2016, the site supervisor was instructed to construct a septic tank 3.6 metres deep at the worksite. A PTW had to be first issued by Wang before any excavation work deeper than 1.5 metres can begin.

Without applying for any PTW, three days later, the supervisor engaged a licensed excavator operator to excavate the area where the septic tank was to be constructed.

With excavation works completed, on 29 January 2016, the site supervisor tasked a team of six construction workers to enter an excavation site to erect formwork structures and rebars. After that, three workers were instructed to enter the excavation and spread some concrete that was to be poured in.

The site supervisor, who was an unlicensed excavator operator, then proceeded to operate an excavator with a concrete bucket attached to the excavator’s lifting hook to pour concrete into the pit. In his second attempt at pouring concrete, when the excavator started to topple as its arm was extended to reach out to the position where the concrete cement was to be poured. The concrete bucket struck one of the workers in the pit who then died due to multiple injuries sustained.

Per MOM's investigations, it was found that a day after the fatal accident, five people (the site supervisor, site manager, a WSH officer from Qingdao, a safety coordinator from Qingdao, and the project director from Qingjian) signed a backdated PTW.

This was intended to give a false impression that a PTW was properly issued and the necessary safety measures were put in place before excavation work began.

These safety measures entailed:

  • Briefing workers involved on safe work procedures
  • Ensuring workers were attired with the required personal protective equipment
  • Sloping the soil bank according to requirement
  • Barricading the open edge of the excavation
  • Removing all material or machinery near the excavation
  • Providing proper access to the excavation
  • Displaying safety signage at conspicuous locations
The press release details the full sentences for the parties involved.

Photo / 123RF