Company fined over $200k after workers burned in blast
The three workers were untrained in working within a confined space and yet their company sent them to work in an underground storage tank.
The company also did not check if the tank had dangerous gases inside, which led to an explosion causing all three to suffer burns.
Yesterday, Environmental Landscape was fined $220,000 by the State Courts under the Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSHA) for failing to take adequate safety measures in the tank.
On July 25, 2016, it sent four workers to the storage tank at 131 Lorong Semangka near Choa Chu Kang.
Mr Rahman Mohammad Ataur, then 21, Mr Miah Sobuj, then 19, Mr Uddin Mohammad Riaz, then 27, and Mr Alagappan Vignesh, then 23, were instructed by their supervisor Hossan Billal, then 30, to clear residual water from the underground storage tank.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) found the workers were not trained to work within a confined space. They were also not informed of the risks involved, such as oxygen deficiency or enrichment and built-up toxic or flammable gases.
The presence of toxic or flammable gases were not identified nor addressed before the workers entered the tank.
The company also did not have procedures for dealing with emergencies that might arise during the work.
The tank, a confined space 3.2m deep, was only accessible by a ladder at the only manhole open at the time.
Hossan also received no training in supervising works to be carried out in a confined space.
Mr Miah entered the confined space first. He was handed a floodlight and an electrical socket by Mr Rahman, who then joined him underground.
Mr Alagappan stayed above ground as it was his first day at work.
As the last worker, Mr Uddin, was entering the space, Mr Rahman switched on the socket extension to activate the floodlight.
It caused an explosion that threw Mr Uddin and the ladder out of the confined space's entrance.
Burned, he ran and dived into a nearby pond about 10m to 15m away.
After being momentarily overwhelmed by the fire, Mr Rahman and Mr Miah climbed up the ladder, which was re-inserted by 20 other workers who came to help.
The three injured workers were rushed to the Singapore General Hospital.
Hossan has been charged under the WSHA with instructing the workers to perform the cleaning works without ensuring it was safe for them to do so.
Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM's director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said the company's blatant disregard for workplace safety and health was unacceptable.
He added: "We will continue to press for high fines against employers who knowingly put their workers at risk."