Engineering firm fined S$200,000 over death of worker by electrocution

Engineering firm fined S$200,000 over death of worker by electrocution

Channel NewsAsia·2018-01-19 23:05

A worker solders electrical wire to a component in a factory. (File photo: REUTERS/Phil Noble)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore office of a Germany-headquartered engineering firm has been fined S$200,000 after a worker was fatally electrocuted while testing and calibrating a machine. 

MW Group had failed to conduct a specific risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an Arc Reflection System (ARS) machine, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a press release on Friday (Jan 19). 

The worker, Mr Suyambu Suman, was instructed to test and calibrate the machine at Pantech Business Hub on the day of his death on Nov 7, 2013. 

He held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from two to 12 kilovolts. While doing so, he fell backwards and passed out, and died later the same day. The cause of his death was consistent with electrocution, according to MOM. 

The Energy Market Authority's investigations into the accident concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the high voltage calibration works were carried out, and a safe working distance of about 1.5m was not maintained between Mr Suyambu and the "live" terminals.

MOM said that MW Group had conducted a generic risk assessment for "electrical testing" before the incident and identified electrocution as the only hazard. Despite this, no control measures were put in place to prevent the "reasonable foreseeable" risk of electrocution. 

There were also no safe work procedures established during the testing and calibration of the ARS machine. The technicians working on the day of the accident were not aware of any risk assessment, safe work procedures or control measures to protect them from electrocution when testing and calibrating the machine, the ministry added.

MW Group was convicted for workplace safety and health lapses after a five-day trial. 

MOM director of the Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate Chan Yew Kwong said that the employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution and yet failed to provide them with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely. 

"It is the employer’s duty to ensure no works are carried out without appropriate safeguards. In this case, special test fixtures are needed to protect the employees from the risk of electrocution," he said, adding that the ministry will take companies that disregard workers’ safety to task.

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