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SembMarine's Jurong Shipyard fined S$400,000 for safety lapses that saw 89 injured when oil rig tilted

JURONG Shipyard Pte Ltd, a unit of Sembcorp Marine, was fined S$400,000 for safety lapses in the construction of an oil rig that resulted in 89 workers injured.

The lives of 1,000 on board the rig were also put at risk in the accident on the morning of Dec 3, 2012, the Ministry of Manpower said on Thursday.

On that day, the oil rig, the Noble Regina Allen (NRA), suddenly pitched during testing of its jack-up system. About 1,000 workers from various subcontractors engaged by Jurong Shipyard on board the NRA had to evacuate through only one escape gangway, resulting in some workers jumping into the sea to escape. A large number of workers suffered injuries, with 89 workers conveyed to various hospitals for treatment.

MOM said its investigation revealed that the sudden tilt of the rig was due to the forward leg motor not being able to hold the weight of the hull when the brakes were released. In addition, the jacking control system was not designed to be fail-safe.

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Jurong Shipyard also failed to take adequate safety measures for the testing of the jack-up system of the oil rig, by not undertaking an adequate risk assessment, not implementing control measures in safe work procedure and not providing adequate means of escape.

"The heavy fine reflected the very serious safety breaches by Jurong Shipyard that had put at risk the lives of so many workers," said Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate.

He noted that as the principal contractor, Jurong Shipyard had the duty to plan, manage and monitor the construction of projects to ensure work was performed in a safe manner. This included emergency arrangements and procedures.

In a separate, tragic sequel to the accident a few weeks later, a worker helping to right the leaning rig slipped and fell. Mr Teo Kok Kee, 50, was taken to hospital but died of a heart attack. He was an employee of Belfor Asia, a disaster recovery and property restoration company that had been hired by Jurong Shipyard to perform recovery work on the rig.