SINGAPORE: The director of a local construction company has been sentenced to 22 weeks in jail for his blatant disregard for work safety and healthy work practices, resulting in a serious injury to one of his workers.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has also condemned the company’s negligence and lack of adherence to safety protocols, asserting that as the sole director of building construction company Ossis, Denny Nasution Chng should have developed and implemented a safety and health framework for all worksite activities. MOM said: “Not only did he fail to carry out any form of risk assessment, he also did not have in place any fall prevention measures for works carried out on a roof canopy. His flagrant disregard for workplace safety and health practices resulted in severe injury to a worker.”

The incident occurred on 4 March 2021, when two workers were assigned to repair a wall next to a ceiling at a construction site. The ceiling, situated 3.5 meters from the first floor, posed a significant risk during the repair process.

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The two workers assessed the situation on the second floor and applied plaster to cracks in the wall. During the waiting period for the plaster to dry, one of the workers left the site to engage in some personal errands. Upon returning, he was met with a harrowing scene – his colleague had fallen to the first floor.

The injured worker suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and multiple intracranial haemorrhages, rendering him bedridden and incapable of communication. The incident prompted a thorough investigation by the Ministry of Manpower.

The subsequent inquiry revealed a series of grave lapses on the part of Ossis. The company failed to adequately confirm the potential dangers of the repair project and neglected to implement essential risk management and control measures that could have prevented such a tragic incident.

It was also found that the company did not ensure that its employees comprehended the instructions for construction at heights, a critical component in mitigating the risks involved.

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Chng was sentenced to jail under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

MOM reported that in the first half of 2023, 86 per cent of worksite fatalities and 65 per cent of major injuries were due to smaller-scale construction works, such as additions and alterations, renovation and facilities management. It said, “MOM takes a serious view of errant employers who put the lives of others at risk, and will not hesitate to prosecute those responsible for the wrongdoing.”