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SMRT's Director of Control Operations fined $55,000 in fatal train accident case

  1. Teo Wee Kiat, the Director of Control Operations for SMRT Trains Ltd. (“SMRT”), was fined $55,000 today for the fatal train accident on 22 March 2016. SMRT’s Operations Control Centre (“OCC”), which comes under Teo Wee Kiat’s charge, manages and grants final approval to all requests for track access, including the management of access to train tracks during traffic hours. Teo Wee Kiat was charged under the Workplace Safety and Health Act (“WSH Act”) for failing to exercise due diligence as the Director of Control Operations to:
    a) Ensure SMRT’s employees complied with approved safety operating procedures when accessing train tracks during traffic hours; and
    b) Ensure that the deviation in procedures practised by SMRT’s employees to access the train tracks was approved by the management of SMRT and passed safety audits to ensure safety and health of employees using these procedures.
  2. Mr Chan Yew Kwong, Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, “As Director of Control Operations, Teo Wee Kiat has the ultimate responsibility to ensure SMRT employees complied with the mandated operating procedures. Despite knowing that the operating procedures for track access have not been complied with, he did not take any action to ensure compliance or to review the operating procedures. He has failed in his duties, and must be held accountable for his negligence.”

    Case Background
  3. On 22 March 2016, two SMRT trainee employees, who were part of a 15 member team checking on a fault relating to switching equipment on the MRT tracks, were hit by a train near Pasir Ris MRT station.
  4. On 28 February 2017, SMRT pleaded guilty and was convicted under the WSH Act for failing to take measures necessary to ensure the safety and health of its employees who had to access the train tracks during traffic hours. SMRT was fined $400,000.

    MOM’s Investigation Findings
  5. Track access during traffic hours is an inherently dangerous and high-risk activity as it requires employees to be physically present on the train tracks when passenger train services are in operation. Hence, SMRT had approved and issued a set of documented operating procedures (OP) known as “Unit 3C OP” to govern such activities.
  6. MOM investigations revealed:
    a) SMRT employees have not been complying with “Unit 3C OP” from as early as 2002, and the frequency of employees utilising such unapproved methods of track access increased from 2007;
    b) OCC has been allowing SMRT employees to deviate from the “Unit 3C OP” when granting permission to access train track during traffic hours;
    c) Teo Wee Kiat, as Director of Control Operations, was aware that SMRT employees had not been complying with “Unit 3C OP” when accessing limited clearance train tracks during traffic hours. However, he did not flag out such safety issues to SMRT management, so that the management can decide on whether an audit or review should be conducted.