Jurong Shipyard fined $630,000 in two months for safety lapses

An overview of the accident scene within the dry dock. PHOTO: Ministry of Manpower

In less than two months, Jurong Shipyard Pte Ltd (JSPL) has been fined a total of $630,000 for safety lapses related to two separate incidents that saw the deaths of two workers and injuries to dozens more.

On Thursday (4 January), Jurong Shipyard was fined $230,000 for an accident on 29 October 2011 that resulted in the deaths of an Indian national and a Thai national.

The workers were employed by Shipblast Marine, which had been engaged by Jurong Shipyard to carry out grit blasting work to smoothen the surface of a vessel in a dry dock.

Media reports said Ramudu Sivakumar, 25, and Phromprasoet Thanawan, 32, were in a cherry picker’s basket when the boom of the cherry picker buckled and collapsed, causing the basket to fall about 30 metres down to the dry dock.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), all four boom sections and the basket of the cherry picker were corroded. It underwent an 18-month overhaul that was completed in July 2011.

However, the second boom section had sustained significant wear and tear, with the remaining boom plate thickness measured to be as low as 2.86mm (the original thickness of the boom plate was reported to be 6.00mm).

According to the manufacturer’s guidelines, it should have been replaced. But Jurong Shipyard, which is owned by Sembcorp Marine, only blasted and painted over the affected areas.

“However, JSPL did not refer to the manufacturer’s inspection guidelines prior to the incident. Instead, it erroneously referred to the American Bureau of Shipping (“ABS”) rules for survey after construction, which is meant for conventional vessels and not for lifting equipment,” said MOM.

After the overhaul, Jurong Shipyard failed to do comprehensive checks of the boom. The undiscovered defects led to the fatal accident.

Jurong Shipyard was fined under the Workplace Safety and Health Act (WSH Act) for failing to ensure the cherry picker was maintained in a safe condition.

Chan Yew Kwong, MOM’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said, “Two workers lost their lives as a result of poor equipment maintenance. The MOM will prosecute owners of equipment who fail to provide for its safe use, putting workers’ lives at risk.”

Last November, JSPL was also fined $400,000 under the WSH Act for failing to take reasonable measures necessary to ensure the safety and health of employees employed by contractors of the Noble Regina Allen (NRA), an oil rig under construction.

On the morning of 3 December, 2012, the NRA tilted suddenly during testing of the jack-up system. About 1,000 workers from various subcontractors engaged by JSPL on board the NRA had to evacuate through only one escape gangway.

A large number of workers suffered injuries, with 89 workers conveyed to hospitals for treatment. It was one of the worst industrial accidents in Singapore in recent years.