SMRT director fined $55,000 over death of trainees in track accident

The director of control operations at rail operator SMRT Trains was fined $55,000 on Sep 29 over the death of two trainees who were hit by a passenger train on March 22 last year.

Teo Wee Kiat, 41, admitted to failing to take necessary measures to ensure the safety of SMRT's employees, such as making sure that they complied with the approved operating procedures when accessing the train track during traffic hours.

He also failed to ensure the procedures passed safety audits and that they were documented and disseminated.

The two SMRT trainees Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 25, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were part of a 15 member team that was sent to investigate an apparent fault relating to switching equipment when they were hit by an oncoming train at Pasir Ris MRT station.

SMRT was previously fined $400,000 for the workplace safety lapse.

"While heading the Operations Control Centre (OCC), Teo knew that it had been permitting employees to conduct track access in contravention of "Unit 3C OP", a set of documented operating procedures to govern track access during traffic hours," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Anandan Bala.

Investigations showed such practices had been allowed to perpetuate for some time before the accident, even starting as early as 2002 according to the Ministry of Manpower.

In mitigation, Teo's lawyer Adam Maniam said his client voluntarily took steps to fix the problems that had led to the incident before he was charged.

He said Teo set up a dedicated unit to coordinate and control track access for works during non-traffic hours, and took over control of the maintenance operations centre.

The maximum penalty for the offence under the Workplace Safety and Health Act is a $200,000 fine and two years' jail.

Read the full story on The Straits Times.