Safety lapse led to death of trainees
Procedures not followed before inspection team entered worksite: SMRT report
Two SMRT trainees were killed on an MRT track last month because vital safety protection measures were not taken.
That is the key finding of investigations made public yesterday by SMRT's Accident Review Panel.
The panel comprised members of the SMRT Board Risk Committee and three independent experts from Keppel Corporation, Transport for London, which runs the London Underground, and a former staff member of Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway Corporation.
Two SMRT employees, Mr Nasrulhudin Najumudin, 26, and Mr Muhammad Asyraf Ahmad Buhari, 24, were hit by a train near Pasir Ris MRT station when they were on the track to investigate a technical fault on March 22.
The two men, who had joined SMRT in January, were undergoing on-the-job training.
They were part of a team of 15 dispatched to look into a reported alarm from a monitoring device that morning.
Both employees were killed by a train travelling at 60kmh in automatic mode. The train driver applied the emergency brakes on seeing the workers but could not stop in time.
SMRT said that before a team of employees is allowed onto the track, protection measures must be taken.
This includes setting the speed limit on the affected track sector to 0kmh so that no train can enter on automated mode, and deploying watchmen to look out for approaching trains as well as provide early warning to the team.
However, some procedures were not followed before their entry into the work site that day, said SMRT. (See report below.)
SMRT said its report had been submitted to the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Police Force and Land Transport Authority to help with their investigations.
There were also other factors identified as areas for improvement, namely track access management controls, communication protocols and track vigilance by various parties.
In a statement to the media yesterday, the transport operator said: "SMRT deeply regrets that the failure to apply a vital safety procedure led to the tragic accident."
The Accident Review Panel also concluded that "while existing safety protection mechanisms are adequate, and current operating procedures continue to be relevant and applicable, they can be improved for greater clarity and ease of ground implementation".
"SMRT Trains has taken immediate steps to ensure stricter enforcement of procedures, strengthened system ownership and control across levels and work teams, and tightened supervision within teams to prevent a recurrence," it said.
It added that its safety structures, processes and compliance will be reviewed to ensure safety continues to be the highest priority in all its operations and maintenance services.
INVESTIGATION REPORT SAYS
"On the day of the accident, a joint engineering team comprising six Signal staff members (including four trainees) and nine Permanent Way staff (including two trainees) were tasked to examine a signaling monitoring device along the tracks near Pasir Ris MRT Station.
"The device had earlier registered a warning of a possible fault that could affect train service.
"The engineering team made its way to the device in a single file along the maintenance walkway. As they approached the device, the Signal team, led by a supervisor, stepped onto the track before the protection measures were implemented.
"The supervisor narrowly avoided being hit by the oncoming train, but Nasrulhudin and Muhammad Asyraf, who were second and third in line, were unable to react in time."
- SMRT Accident Review Panel