Singapore

Worker killed, 10 injured three days after contractor fined $250,000 for 2015 death

10 others injured in worksite accident, three days after contractor was fined $250,000 for 2015 death

Three days after Or Kim Peow (OKP) Contractors was rapped in court for not taking workplace safety seriously and penalised for the death of its worker in an accident, tragedy struck again early yesterday.

This time, a 31-year-old Chinese national was killed and 10 other foreign workers injured after part of a viaduct under construction near the PIE exit to TPE collapsed around 3.30am.

Seven of the injured were admitted to Changi General Hospital, with two in intensive care.

On Tuesday, the local construction firm, which specialises in building roads, was fined $250,000 for safety lapses that led to an Indian national falling to his death from a platform below the Yio Chu Kang flyover.

The incident, in which three other workers were seriously injured, occurred in September 2015.

Two months later, OKP announced a $94.6 million contract by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to construct a viaduct from Tampines Expressway to Pan-Island Expressway (Westbound) and Upper Changi Road East.

Construction of the viaduct started on Nov 23, 2015, and was scheduled to be completed by 2020.

Yesterday's accident prompted LTA to suspend all work at public road and rail construction sites for half a day to review safety measures.

The safety timeout ended at 1pm. But work at the accident site remains suspended after the Building and Construction Authority revoked OKP's permit pending investigations.

OKP said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange that it was "deeply saddened" by the accident, and it will "assist and cooperate fully with the authorities in their investigations".

Its parent company, publicly-listed OKP Holdings, called for a trading halt of its shares at 10.12am after the price dropped 8 per cent to $0.395.

LTA's preliminary investigations indicated that the corbels supporting the pre-cast beams between two sections had given way while the workers were casting the decking for the viaduct, causing them to fall.

Civil engineer Chong Kee Sen said there were two possible reasons how this could have happened.

Mr Chong, the immediate past president of the Institution of Engineers, said the corbel, which juts out from a structure, is designed to carry the weight of a longitudinal structure.

One reason could be that the corbel - made from a mixture of concrete and steel - was unable to support its designated weight because of faulty design.

The other is that the temporary support in the construction could have failed.

This support could come in the form of scaffolding or the pre-cast beam could be designed to act as a support structure. It is not clear what kind of temporary support was used in this case, Mr Chong said.

The accident resulted in the collapsed structure spilling on the slip road below the viaduct, making it impassable.

Recovery works for the affected slip road from Upper Changi Road East to PIE (Changi) are estimated to take about two days before it can be re-opened to traffic, an LTA spokesman said yesterday.

LTA is building a temporary road alongside the slip road so that SBS Transit's bus service 24, which was diverted after the accident, can return to its original route.

The temporary road will be open for public use by noon today after LTA conducts a thorough safety and design review of the road.

Mr Zainal Sapari, deputy chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Manpower, said his immediate concern was whether OKP's other construction sites had similar lapses.

He said: "The previous workplace accident in 2015 did not mean that their buildings were structurally unsound. But LTA should explain their process of selection and how much weightage they give for workplace safety track records."

Yesterday's fatality brings the number of workplace deaths this year to 20. There were 66 fatalities last year.

Mr Raj Singh, founder of Safety@Work, said companies tend to be reactive when it comes to workplace safety, and a company's safety record should be considered when awarding contracts.

According to OKP's annual report last year, it also won two contracts to build sheltered walkways under LTA's Walk2Ride Programme in February 2015.

RELATED ARTICLE

Workplace AccidentForeign Workerconstruction