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Jurong Shipyard fined $230,000 for death of two workers due to poor equipment maintenance

JURONG Shipyard, a unit of Sembcorp Marine, has been fined S$230,000 for poor equipment maintenance which resulted in the death of two workers.

The fine was imposed under the Workplace Safety and Health Act for the company's failure to ensure that the aerial platform that the workers were working on was maintained in safe condition.

The workers were fatally injured on Oct 29, 2011 when they fell about 30 m to the bottom of a dry dock.

Jurong Shipyard had been engaged to perform repair works on a vessel which was docked in a dry dock in its shipyard at 29 Tanjong Kling Road. It engaged Shipblast Marine, the employer of the two deceased workers, to carry out grit blasting work.

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The two deceased workers used an aerial platform - called a cherry picker - to carry out their work at the front of the vessel.

Both were in the cherry picker's basket when the boom of the cherry picker buckled and collapsed, causing the basket to fall about 30 m down to the dry dock.

A Ministry of Manpower (MOM) investigation found that the cherry picker underwent maintenance for 18 months from April 23, 2011 to July 18, 2011.

All four boom sections and basket were corroded. The problems had then been rectified by blasting and painting over the affected areas.

But the one of the sections sustained significant wear and had been worn down to just 2.86 mm, from six mm originally.

According to the manufacturer's guidelines, this means that the segment would have to be replaced.

However, Jurong Shipyard did not refer to the manufacturer's inspection guidelines, said the MOM in a press statement on Thursday.

Instead, it erroneously referred to the American Bureau of Shipping rules for survey after construction, which is meant for conventional vessels and not for lifting equipment.

Based on this standard, Jurong Shipyard did not replace the worn-down segment.

MOM said that Jurong Shipyard also failed to conduct comprehensive checks on all the sections of the boom of the cherry picker even after the 18-month overhaul maintenance.

"Jurong Shipyard failed to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safe use of its equipment. It should have referred to the manufacturer's inspection guidelines to check for corrosion and cracks, and conduct thorough equipment checks to ensure the safety of its workers," said Chan Yew Kwong, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate.

"Two workers lost their lives as a result of poor equipment maintenance . . . MOM will prosecute owners of equipment who fail to provide for its safe use, putting workers' lives at risk."