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The Straits Times
Oct 16, 2021
A 54-year-old cleaner was found dead in the central refuse chute compactor room of Block 623C in Punggol Central on Saturday (Oct 16) morning.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics from the Singapore Civil Defence Force at about 8.15am, the police said in a statement.
No foul play is suspected and the police are investigating it as a case of unnatural death.
The man, a block cleaner with Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, was found caught between the door and the discharge outlet of the waste compactor in the central rubbish chute, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in a statement.
Identified only as Mr Lee, the Singaporean was employed by Lian Cheng Contracting.
MOM is investigating the incident and has instructed Lian Cheng to stop all works involving access to central rubbish chutes, as well as the operation of waste compactors.
Residents said Mr Lee was friendly and often greeted them as he worked, Chinese language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported on Sunday.
A 70-year-old resident said Mr Lee would even offer to help her with her groceries.
Another resident said that she saw a couple standing near the compactor room at about 8am. She said they were on their phones, and told Shin Min that she believes they were calling the police for help.
A foreman told Shin Min that Mr Lee had worked in Punggol for more than three years and cleaned three blocks of flats in the area. He worked part time for four hours a day.
Following the incident, the foreman said that 11 compactor rooms from Block 621A to Block 624C were locked, and the management reminded the cleaners not to enter these rooms to clean up, reported Shin Min.
Mr Sharael Taha, chairman of the town council, was at the scene to console and help Mr Lee's family. He said the town council is working closely with the employer and the authorities in their investigations.
Ms Yeo Wan Ling, MP for the Punggol Shore ward where the incident happened, was also at the scene with her team to offer assistance and console the cleaner's family.
In a Facebook post, Ms Yeo requested members of the public who had received images of the incident to delete them and refrain from circulating them. She also asked for the public to respect the privacy of the man's family.
This current case brings the total number of workplace fatalities in Singapore to 32 this year.
In 2016, a 37-year-old Bangladeshi worker was crushed to death while operating waste compacting machinery in Bedok.