Prime mover swerved over edge of berth, decoupled from trailer and fell into sea, killing driver: MOM

Fatimah Mujibah
The Straits Times
Feb 1, 2023

The driver of a prime mover who died after it fell into the sea at Keppel Terminal on Tuesday is the third workplace death this year.

In response to queries, a spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that on Jan 31, at around 1.45am, a 44-year-old Malaysian was driving the vehicle that was attached to a trailer carrying two 20-foot containers.

“His vehicle swerved over the edge of a berth, decoupled from the trailer and fell into the sea. His body was recovered later that day.”

While workers from port operator PSA Singapore helped to prevent the trailer from moving, divers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team conducted an underwater search.

The SCDF said the divers retrieved the driver’s body from the vehicle at a depth of 14m, and a paramedic pronounced him dead at the scene.

He was employed by Handling System.

MOM reminds companies – whose key activities include extensive use of transport or goods vehicles – to have a workplace traffic management plan that is communicated to staff, contractors and vendors.

All companies need to ensure that workplace traffic safety rules, training programmes and safe work procedures are followed.

The ministry also revealed that a pump attendant who died in a separate accident on Jan 19 was the second workplace fatality in 2023.

The 66-year-old Singaporean was knocked down by a car at a petrol station at 61 Sengkang East Road at around 1am. The impact caused him to fall and hit his head on the ground.

The man, employed by Zenith Management Consultants, was taken to Sengkang General Hospital. He died from his injuries on Jan 23.

MOM urges all road users, including drivers and pedestrians, to be vigilant when using shared spaces and keep a lookout for others, as well as potential hazards.

MOM said it is investigating both accidents and has not uncovered any serious workplace safety and health lapses that would warrant a stop-work order. However, the employers have been instructed to appoint a workplace safety and health auditor to conduct a thorough audit of the workplace.

The first workplace death this year took place on Jan 12, when a 37-year-old worker from Myanmar fell four storeys from a concrete ledge while painting the facade of a condominium block in Bedok.

He was on a gondola with another worker but both climbed out of the gondola to paint parts of the wall that were out of reach.

MOM informed their employer, ISOTeam C&P, to stop using the gondola and halt all work-at-height activities at the condominium. The company will be barred from hiring new foreign workers for three months due to its poor risk controls, the ministry added.

ISOTeam C&P’s managing director, Mr Sam Chen, will also be required to personally account to MOM for the lapses, and take responsibility for rectifications.

There were 46 workplace fatalities in 2022, the highest recorded since 2016’s tally of 66. Falling from a height was one of the top causes.

On Sept 1, 2022, MOM imposed a six-month heightened safety period that will run till Feb 28. During this time, firms will be barred from hiring new foreign workers for up to three months if severe lapses are found following a serious or fatal workplace accident.

Following this measure, the average number of workplace fatalities nationwide per month fell from 4.5 between January and August 2022 to 2.5 from September to December 2022.

The Straits Times

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