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Three people jailed in August for causing three deaths in separate workplace accidents

SINGAPORE – The director of a fish culture farm, a forklift operator, and a quay crane operator were jailed in August for their involvement in three separate fatal workplace accidents.

The three of them were prosecuted under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Thursday.

Chan Nyok Fong, 54, the sole director of Royal Crown Fishery & Trading, was sentenced to two months’ jail on Aug 2 over the death of her fish farm worker, Myanmar national Ko Ko.

On June 11, 2021, Mr Ko Ko entered a pond in the company’s fish farm in Lim Chu Kang to harvest fish. While he was pulling a fish net across to the opposite bank of the pond, his co-workers saw him struggling in the water.

He was taken to hospital after his co-workers pulled him out of the pond, but subsequently died.

MOM said the company did not have a methodology or carry out a risk assessment for harvesting fish from the ponds. Life jackets and buoys were also not properly maintained, and neither were they accessible or appropriately utilised.

The firm also did not have emergency procedures for such incidents. Mr Ko Ko’s co-workers were not trained to perform first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

As the company’s sole director, Chan was responsible for ensuring that appropriate safety measures were in place, but she did not do so. “Instead, she had left the safe work procedures to the discretion of the workers,” said MOM.

In another case, Alagappan Ganesan, a 25-year-old forklift operator employed by Asiabuild Construction, was sentenced to 18 weeks’ jail on Aug 15.

On July 7, 2022, Ganesan was operating a forklift in a multi-storey carpark in Keat Hong Link, while two other workers were performing cable-laying works.

One of the workers, Mr Kunjappa Makesh, attempted to throw a cable over the forklift, to prevent the machine from running over the cable. But it landed on the forklift’s rear.

Mr Makesh climbed onto the rear of the forklift when Ganesan started to reverse it. Mr Makesh was caught between the machine’s overhead guard and a beam, and died after being taken to hospital.

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MOM said Ganesan had been negligent in his duties, noting that he did not pay attention to the environment or perform any checks before operating the machine.

The third case involved Mohammad Asraf Rosli, a quay crane operator employed by PSA Corporation.

On March 11, 2020, the 33-year-old was operating a quay crane at Pasir Panjang Terminal, which was hoisting a 20ft container. Asraf did not ensure that no one was standing beneath the container, and lowered the container onto a worker, Mr Varathan Prabu.

Mr Prabu had been securing containers on board a vessel with another worker when the incident happened. He was taken to hospital and died due to his injuries.

For his reckless act, Asraf was sentenced to seven months’ jail on Aug 25.

MOM reminded workers to comply with workplace safety and health procedures, and report unsafe practices to their supervisors or the ministry.

Said MOM: “Workplace safety must be a top priority for all employers and workers. MOM will take action against those responsible for WSH (workplace safety and health) lapses.”

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