Boom lift operator who died in Tuas accident not formally trained: coroner

Amir Hussain
·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
The accident left Paul Jony, a 34-year-old Bangladeshi national, dead at the scene. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
The accident left Paul Jony, a 34-year-old Bangladeshi national, dead at the scene. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A boom lift operator who died after being crushed in a workplace accident last year was not formally trained to carry out his job, a coroner's court heard.

The death of 34-year-old Bangladeshi national Paul Jony at Hock Ann Seng Industries along Tuas Avenue 18 on 23 November last year was found by State Coroner Christopher Goh to be an "unfortunate misadventure".

In his findings made available on Wednesday (5 May), Goh said, "It is likely that the accident could have been avoided had the deceased undergone the necessary training and made aware of the likely hazards associated with boom lift operations."

About the case

Jony was working with two colleagues at the time of the incident: Hossen Md Zelani and Hossain Md Alomir. 

Jony operated the boom lift machine and was tasked to work on the U-channel about 12.4m above ground level. A safety officer told Hossen to ensure the boom lift machine did not move out of place because the floor was uneven. The officer then left the area.

Instead of staying to watch over the boom lift machine, Hossen left to collect welding cables some distance away. While he was doing so, Hossain rushed to tell him that Jony was involved in an accident. 

They ran back to the boom lift and Hossen pressed the emergency stop button. It was then that they noticed Jony's head stuck between the railing of the boom lift platform and a steel beam – known as an I-beam – on the ceiling.

Hossen then told Hossain to get help while he operated another boom lift machine to raise himself up to help Jony.

"Shortly after, Hossain returned with another worker, Thimmarayan Prakasam. Hossen then climbed over to Mr Jony’s boom lift machine and instructed Thimmarayan to lower the boom lift machine from the ground. They noticed that Mr Jony’s head was crushed and that he was unresponsive," said Goh.

Paramedics pronounced Jony dead at the scene.

Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower revealed that Jony and Hossen had been regularly operating boom lifts at the site for about three weeks. However, they were not formally trained to do so and had not attended the appropriate course under the Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) scheme.

"As the deceased had not attended any formal training, he may not have been able to identify the overhead risks or hazards associated with the boom lift operation," said Coroner Goh.

"The lack of a banksman at the foot of the boom lift to assist the boom lift operator in looking out for hazards may also have contributed to the accident," he added. A banksman's job is to supervise the use of vehicles or heavy machinery at a worksite.

Investigators also found that the boom lift's function speed control knob was set at the maximum.

There were 30 workplace fatalities last year, compared with 39 in 2019. The workplace fatal injury rate for last year was 0.9 per 100,000 workers, down from 1.1 per 100,000 workers in 2019. The numbers and rates are the lowest since records were first compiled in 2004.

Meanwhile, there were 11,350 workplace injuries last year, compared with 13,779 injuries in 2019.

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