Bangladeshi worker, 41, dies after wall collapses on him at Serangoon Gardens landed property

The accident took place at 44 Tai Hwan Heights on Jun. 10.

Fiona Tan | June 16, 2022, 08:19 PM

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A 41-year-old man from Bangladesh passed away after a wall collapsed on him.

A Jun. 16 alert issued by the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSH) stated that the worker was hacking at the wall on the second storey of a private landed home at the time.

Photo from Workplace Safety and Health alert

The accident took place at 44 Tai Hwan Heights on Jun. 10, reported The Straits Times (ST).

The man was extricated from the rubble by officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is investigating the accident and has ordered the occupier to halt all works at the site of the accident, said its spokesperson in response to ST's queries.

The man was employed by Sam Woo (S.E.A.) and the occupier is Beow Hock Engineering.

26 workplace fatalities and more than 200 major injuries in 2022

According to CNA, there have been 26 workplace fatalities this year, with 10 occurring in April 2022 alone.

In comparison, there were 23 fatal injuries in the first half of 2021, based on MOM's data.

Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said there were more than 200 major injuries within the first four months of 2022.

He added that MOM is keeping a close watch on the number of major injuries and that this number of cases is comparable to the same period in 2021 and in the years before Covid-19.

MOM said the accidents happened primarily in the manufacturing, construction and marine shipyard sectors, and added that 65 per cent of the fatalities and major injuries involved workers from small- and medium-sized enterprises, CNA reported.

Far too many workplace deaths and it is not acceptable

On May 9, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called attention to the increase in workplace deaths, saying it "was far too many, and not acceptable".

MOM, WSH, NTUC Singapore, and industry partners called for a two-week safety time-out on the same day.

PM Lee said this would allow "companies to focus their attention on workplace safety, reinforce their safety processes, and deal promptly with safety issues raised by workers".

Stiffer penalties put in place

MOM said it has stepped up its enforcement, where the number of inspections for the first half of 2022 is nearly double of that in the same period in 2021.

CNA quoted Zaqy, who said over 1,400 inspections have been conducted since April and close to 3,300 enforcement actions were issued.

Additionally, the ministry announced on Jun. 13 that companies with poor workplace safety and health performance will face stiffer penalties starting from June 14.

This includes the doubling of composition fines for offences observed during MOM inspections from S$1,000 to S$2,000 on average, with a maximum sum of S$5,000.

Companies issued stop-work orders or have had major injuries will be required to engage external auditors to conduct a review of their current system and processes.

WSH's advised measures

WSH stated in its Jun. 16 alert that proper plans and procedures must be put in place before demolition work begins as they are considered high-risk construction activities.

To prevent similar accidents, WSH recommended safer work methods, such as adopting a top-down wall-hacking approach to reduce the possibility of a collapse of a large segment of the wall.

Other measures include:

  • A detailed pre-demolition survey to assess the structural stability of the building and its surroundings
  • A demolition plan to inform workers of the demolition sequence and approach
  • A Permit-To-Work system to ensure all safe working conditions are met
  • A debris management system detailing how demolition debris is managed

WSH added that supervisors should monitor the site for possible unsafe conditions and/or safety lapses, and be on site to ensure that demolition works are carried out according to the demolition plan.

Additionally, workers should also be provided with the necessary personal protective equipment, such as safety boots and helmets.

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Top image from Workplace Safety and Health Council's alert