Singapore—For the death of one employee while cutting trees, Sin Eng Cleaning Services was given a S$190,000 fine, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) via a statement to the media on Wednesday, September 25.
In August of 2015, Sin Eng Cleaning Services was hired to cut down six trees in vacant state land behind 62 Kheam Hock Road. On August 27, Chinniah Ganeshan, an Indian citizen and one of Sin Eng, received the assignment to cut one part of one of those trees, together with two other workers from Sin Eng.
After Mr Ganeshan cut down the section of the tree assigned to him, that section fell and hit him, knocking him off and causing him to fall.
As he was wearing a harness, he remained suspended in the air around 23 meters from the ground.
An hour later he was brought down by a by an employee from another landscaping contractor who had been working nearby.
But Mr Ganeshan later died of neck and chest injuries at the site at 4:20 pm.
Upon conducting an investigation, MOM discovered that the company did not carry out sufficient risk assessment and failed to establish safety procedures.
According to MOM’s press statement, “Investigations revealed that Sin Eng originally planned for the Deceased to use a lorry crane mounted with a bucket to perform the assigned task. As there was a structure blocking the crane’s access, Sin Eng instructed the Deceased to use the manual tree access (MTA) method instead.
Sin Eng failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for tree removal and cutting work activities. Risks relating to the use of MTA method, such as the failure of tree access equipment and breakage of tree branches, were not identified nor mitigated. The workers were left to decide how to complete their task on their own.
In addition, Sin Eng failed to develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that might arise during tree cutting activities, such as when a worker is suspended at height when using the MTA method. The Deceased was the only certified tree climber in Sin Eng. When the incident happened, there was no other competent tree climber who could come to his help.”
Sebastian Tan, who is the Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate for MOM, said, “The employer has severely compromised the safety of its workers by failing to identify and address the risks associated with the cutting of trees. This process of risk management was especially critical given that there was a change in work method. The accident could have been prevented if the employer had reviewed their risk assessment, implemented control measures for the new work method and communicated these measures to its workers. MOM will ensure that errant companies take full responsibility for endangering workers’ lives.”
A report from Channel NewsAsia (CNA) says that 41 individuals died last year due to injuries in the workplace. Workplace injuries overall rose by around 2.5 percent from 2017 to 2018, from 12,498 incidents to 12,810 incidents.
Sin Eng Cleaning Services was fined on Tuesday, September 24. -/TISG
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