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Jurong Shipyard fined S$230,000 for safety lapses resulting in worker's death

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Photograph showing the distance from the utility water supply manifold to the gantry crane track.

JURONG Shipyard, a unit of Sembcorp Marine, has been fined S$230,000 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for a fatal incident at 5 Jalan Samulun where a worker was struck and caught between a gantry crane and a manifold, the labour ministry said in a press statement on Monday. 

The company had breached the Workplace Safety and Health Act, and pleaded guilty to an offence of failing to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure that its workplace was safe.

On March 20, 2015, the deceased, Stephen Yeo Chye Mong, who was employed as a safety coordinator and patrol man by Foo Ngan Marine, a subcontractor of Jurong Shipyard, was conducting safety checks near the manifolds located along the track of a gantry crane which was in operation, lifting pieces of rolled up welding cables.

Shortly after, a co-worker found Mr Yeo lying on the ground between a utility water supply manifold and the gantry crane’s track. He was rushed to the hospital but later succumbed to his injuries on the same day. 

Investigations by the MOM revealed that there was a "systemic failure" in how Jurong Shipyard performed the lifting operation using the gantry crane. 

"These failures made the workplace dangerous, and also resulted in the accident, which led to the death of the deceased," the MOM said. 

The safety lapses include: failing to appoint a banksman to ensure that the travelling path of the gantry crane along the track was free from persons within the lifting zone when it is in operation; and failing to ensure that there were sufficient visual warning signs to inform persons, apart from the members of the lifting team, to keep out of the lifting zone while the lifting operations was in progress.

Moreover, Jurong Shipyard had failed to ensure that there was sufficient passageway clearance between the gantry crane track and the utility water supply manifold.

In particular, the clearance distance was found to be only 430 millimetres, which was less than the 750 mm recommended in the standard Code of Practice. 

"In fact, the measured distance was only 80 mm when the leg of the gantry crane moved past the utility water supply manifold along its track," the MOM said. 

Said MOM's director of Occupational Safety and Health, Sebastian Tan: "There were several safety lapses that were not addressed in this case. Inadequacy in the risk assessment resulted in the lack of control measures to monitor and coordinate the safe movement of workers during lifting operations involving the gantry crane. The company could have taken simple measures, such as the deployment of banksman or warning signs to prevent the accident, but it did not. A worker unfortunately paid the price with his life."

Earlier in January this year, Jurong Shipyard was similarly fined S$230,000 for poor equipment maintenance which resulted in the death of two workers. 

It was also fined S$400,000 last year, following a 2012 incident in which an oil rig tilted, injuring 89 people. The lives of 1,000 people on board the rig had been put at risk in the incident, the MOM said then. 

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