MW Group Pte Ltd, an equipment calibration and testing company, has been fined S$200,000 over the death of a worker who was fatally electrocuted while testing and calibrating a machine five years ago.
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s press release on Friday (Jan 19), the company was found to fail in conducting required risk assessment and establishing safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an Arc Reflection System (ARS) machine.
The worker, named Mr Suyambu Suman, was instructed to work on testing and calibrating the machine at Pantech Business Hub when the electrocution that led to his death occurred on Nov 7, 2013. He held a high voltage probe to test the ARS ranging from 2 to 12 kilovolts. While doing so, he suddenly fell backwards and passed out. When he was declared dead later the same day, MOM found that his death was consistent due to electrocution, Channel News Asia reports.
Based on the Energy Market Authority’s investigations into the accident, no proper test fixtures were set up before the high voltage calibration works were carried out by the victim. Not only that, a safe working distance of about 1.5m was not maintained between Mr Suyambu and the “live” terminals.
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MOM said that MW Group Pte Ltd had actually conducted a generic risk assessment for electrical testing before the incident. It identified electrocution as the only hazard. However, no further control measures were put in place to prevent the “reasonable foreseeable” risk of electrocution.
Additionally, the company also failed to establish safe work procedures during the testing and calibration of the ARS machine. Because of this, added the ministry, the technicians instructed to work on the day of the accident were not aware about neither risk assessment, safe work procedures, nor the control measures that could protect them from electrocution when testing and calibrating the machine.
MW Group Pte Ltd was convicted for workplace safety and health lapses after a five-day trial.
Regarding to the case, MOM director of the Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate Chan Yew Kwong said that despite knowing that the technicians were at the risk of electrocution exposure, the employer had failed to provide them with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.
He said that it is crucial for employer to ensure that no works are carried out without appropriate safeguards. In this case, special test fixtures are needed to protect the employees from the risk of electrocution. Mr Chan added that the ministry will take companies that disregard workers’ safety to task.
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