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Contractor's fine increased on appeal for failing to ensure safe installation of a gate resulting in fatal accident

  1. Sterling Engineering Pte Ltd (“the company”) ‘s fine was increased, on appeal to the High Court, to $330,000 under the Workplace Safety and Health Act (“WSHA”) for a fatal accident that occurred on 2 September 2014. The High Court, on 9 April 2018, increased the fine amount from $280,000 after hearing appeals from both the Prosecution and the company.

    Case Background
  2. Five workers were pulling a steel sliding gate, which they were installing at the worksite, when it toppled and fatally pinned one worker to the ground. Sterling Engineering Pte Ltd was charged under section 12(1) read with section 20 of the WSHA (Chapter 354A) for failing to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees for the safe installation of the steel sliding gate.
  3. The State Courts had convicted and sentenced the company on 18 July 2017 after a trial. The company subsequently filed an appeal against the conviction and sentence. The Prosecution also filed an appeal to increase the fine amount. Amongst other things, the company argued that the design of the gate, which was not under the company’s purview, caused the accident.
  4. The appeals were heard before Justice Aedit Abdullah, who held that while the company may not be able to alter the design (of the gate), it was still its responsibility, as a fabricator and installer, to ensure safety. The company fell short of the standards required for risk assessment and safety measures during installation. The High Court Judge dismissed the company’s appeal against conviction and sentencing.
  5. Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said, "As the installer of the gate, the employer has a duty to identify all safety risks, including design-related ones, and implement the appropriate control measures to address these risks. The company did neither and a worker needlessly lost his life. MOM will not hesitate to take such errant companies to task."