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MW Group fined $200,000 for fatal workplace incident by electrocution

  1. MW Group Pte Ltd was fined $200,000 for a workplace incident at Pantech Business Hub, where a worker was fatally injured from electrocution. The company was convicted, after a five-day trial, for its workplace safety and health lapses. It had failed to conduct a specific risk assessment (RA) and establish safe work procedures (SWP) for the calibration and testing of an Arc Reflection System (ARS) machine prior to the accident.

    Case Background
  2. On 7 November 2013, Suyambu Suman (“Deceased”) was instructed to test and calibrate the ARS machine. The Deceased held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from 2kV upwards to 12kV. As the D.C. output voltage level of the ARS built up gradually to 12kV, the potential difference between the Deceased’s body and the grip assembly (output cable with high voltage probe) may have exceeded the electric breakdown strength of the air gap, causing a flashover. The Deceased subsequently fell backwards and was unconscious. He died later on the same day. The certified cause of death was consistent with electrocution.

    Investigation Findings
  3. MW Group Pte Ltd had conducted a generic RA for “Electrical Testing” prior to the accident. In the said RA, “electrocution” was identified as the only hazard but no control measures were put in place to prevent the reasonable foreseeable risk of electrocution. There was no specific RA for the testing and calibration of the ARS machine. There was also no SWP established during the testing and calibration of the ARS machine. The technicians working on the day of the accident were not aware of any RA, SWP or any other control measures to protect them from electrocution when testing and calibration of the ARS machine.
  4. Energy Market Authority (EMA) investigations into the accident concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the commencement of the high voltage calibration works. Additionally, a safe working distance of approximately 1.5 metres was not maintained between the Deceased and the ‘live’ terminals.
  5. Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate said, “The employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution and yet failed to provide the technicians with a step by step guide on how to do the job safely. It is the employer’s duty to ensure no works are carried out without appropriate safeguards. In this case, special test fixtures are needed to protect the employees from the risk of electrocution. The MOM will take companies that disregard workers’ safety to task.”