Construction worker who fell to his death failed to secure harness to life line: State Coroner

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
Singapore state courts (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

The construction worker who fell some six floors at a construction site in Tampines to his death had not secured his safety harness to a life line, a State Coroner noted.

Wu Sanyuan, 51, did not undertake the safety measure before starting work even though he was wearing the harness, State Coroner (SC) Kamala Ponnampalam noted on Tuesday (29 February). He had also failed to place wooden planks at each level of the shaft, which could have broken his fall.

SC Ponnampalam ruled the death of Wu, who was then working at a ventilation shaft in the site, as an industrial misadventure.

Wu, who was married, was working for China Jingye Engineering Company when the accident occured.

On 18 December 2017, Wu reported for work at around 7.30am and was assigned to dismantle the aluminium casing at a mechanical ventilation shaft between the 10th and 11th levels at Blk 115 of Tampines Avenue 10. He was given the task with another colleague, Liao Jigang.

At around 9.30am, Liao left to assist another colleague, leaving Wu to complete the task alone.

An hour later, Liao discovered that Wu was missing. He conducted a search of the block and found Wu lying on a wooden plank at level four of the shaft. He removed Wu with the help of other colleagues and called for the ambulance.

Wu was pronounced dead at 11.27am by paramedics at the scene.

His injuries were found to be consistent with a fall from height, and no drugs or substances were implicated in his demise.

According to Liao, both he and Wu were wearing safety harnesses but they were not attached to a life line even though the workers were required to do so. Life lines are meant to hold the body weight of the workers if they were to fall.

The two workers did not attach the harnesses to the life line as it would have impeded their movement in the small shaft, Liao testified.

Both men had also failed to place a wooden plank at each level of the shaft, as part of the company’s safety procedures. Liao acknowledged that it was an oversight on their part.

Wu did not have the habit of using a life line and wooden planks, according to Liao.

Shi Xin Bing, Wu’s work site supervisor, stated that at 7.30am on the day of the incident, a meeting was held to remind the workers of workplace safety.

Shi had also done a safety checklist, which was meant to be completed before the start of work. However, the checklist was not done properly.

Wu had a “good working attitude” and was a “good worker”, said Shi.

According to investigations conducted by the Ministry of Manpower, Wu could have fallen down after losing his footing while standing on a protruding slab, or on the formwork panel rungs while performing dismantling works on his own. Wu could have also slipped while attempting to climb up the formwork panel rungs when he tried to exit the shaft.

A stop-work order was issued to the company after the accident. It was lifted on 29 January last year after adequate safety measures were put in place.

There was no basis to suspect foul play and Wu’s death was a “tragic industrial misadventure”, SC Ponnampalam concluded.

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