Singapore-based firm, Jurong Shipyard has been fined $230,000 by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Friday (Jan 5).
The fine was given under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, owing to its failure to ensure the maintenance and safety of a cherry picker used for accessing work at heights. The safety lapses has resulted in the buckling and collapsing of the aerial platform in the workplace area on Oct 29, 2011. Because of this incident, two workers in it fell 30 meters to the bottom of a dry dock and pronounced dead.
Jurong Shippyard had been engaged to perform repair works on a vessel in its shipyard at 29, Tanjong Kling Road. The two workers were employed by Shipblast Marine, which had been engaged with the company for grit blasting work, which is what they were carrying out at the front of the vessel, inside the cherry picker.
According to MOM’ investigation, it was found that the cherry picker had undergone an 18-month overhaul maintenance work, noted from April 23, 2011 to July 18, 2011. There was corrosion on all four boom sections and baskets. The problems were meant to be rectified by blasting and painting over the affected areas, Straits Times reports.
However, one of the sections had sustained significant wear and had been worn down to a thickness of 2.86 mm, from the original 6 mm. If following the manufacturer’s guidelines, the section should have been replaced considering the condition. But MOM’s finding showed that Jurong Shipyard failed to refer to the manufacturer’s inspection guidelines prior to the incident.
Instead, the firm mistakenly referred to the American Bureau of Shipping rules for survey after construction, which is actually meant for conventional vessels and not for lifting equipment. In the end, it did not replace the section in question.
In its official statement, MOM said that Jurong Shipyard had also failed to establish and conduct comprehensive checks on all the sections of the boom of the cherry picker following the overhaul maintenance. Defects within the unextended boom sections that had led to the fatal accident were not detected as a consequence.
MOM’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, Chan Yew Kwong stated that Jurong Shipyard had failed to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safe use of its equipment. To ensure the safety of its workers, it should have referred to the manufacturer’s inspection guidelines to check for corrosion and cracks and conduct thorough equipment checks.
“Two workers lost their lives as a result of poor equipment maintenance. The MOM will prosecute owners of equipment who fail to provide for its safe use, putting workers’ lives at risk,” he added.