20 June 2018
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Wedding company fined $100,000 for worker's death

Straits Times
12 Jun 2018
K.C. Vijayan

A district judge criticised a wedding services company for work safety lapses, pointing out that the safety harnesses provided for staff were useless as there were no anchorage points for them and the staff were not trained to use them.

SMR Wedding Services was fined $100,000 for the lapses that led to the death of a worker who fell from the top of a wedding dais after fixing some linen cloth to the ceiling.

"Just because the work done involved installation of wedding decorations, it did not mean that safety procedures could be disregarded or taken lightly," said District Judge Shaifuddin Saruwan in decision grounds issued last week.

SMR had pleaded guilty to failing to take adequate safety measures for the decorating work performed by its employees, under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Its worker, Mr Liang Jianxin, fell from a height of 2.5m and hit his head on the ground on May 23, 2014, at the multipurpose hall in Block 421 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 4.

Mr Liang had installed linen cloth on the ceiling while standing on top of a wedding dais. In trying to climb down, he placed one foot on the edge of a step platform ladder but lost his balance.

Mr Liang, a China national, was taken to hospital for surgery and later returned to China. There, he complained of nausea and fainting spells, but declined his doctor's advice to undergo treatment. He subsequently died of accumulated fluid in the brain after surgery for head injuries.

Ministry of Manpower prosecutor Delvinder Singh said the company among other things, failed to conduct a risk assessment for the requisite work and did not exercise control over the use of safety equipment, noting that Mr Liang did not use the safety helmet issued.

Although the company provided its employees with safety harnesses, there were no proper anchorage points provided to secure the harness, he added.

The company's lawyer, Mr Kelvin David Tan, in mitigation said the company accepted responsibility, cooperated fully with the Manpower Ministry and ensured that Mr Liang was cared for after the accident, hiring a maid to tend to him after discharge.

He added the company had addressed all breaches identified and "most importantly" has implemented measures to ensure that all safety regulations and requirements are complied with.

Judge Shaifuddin said appropriate safety measures should have been taken. "For the company to say that the decoration works did not make this apparent or obvious was a reflection of the company's cavalier attitude towards the safety of its employees when working at height," he added.

Both parties have filed appeals.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.