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Individual who operated excavator without formal training sentenced to six months and two weeks' jail for causing death of worker

Kasi Seenivasan (“Kasi”), a 58-year-old director of SKN Transport & Services Pte. Ltd. (“SKN”), was sentenced to six months and two weeks’ imprisonment for offences under section 15(3A) of the Workplace Safety and Health Act (“WSHA”) on 28 March 2022. He also faced two other charges under section 12(1) read with section 48(1) of the WSHA, as the director of SKN, which failed to ensure the safety of its worker, and section 5(1) of the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act, for illegal employment. These were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. He pleaded guilty to charges of committing a negligent act, which resulted in the death of a worker.

Case Summary

2 On 1 March 2019, a worker was at SKN premises to offload a skip bin of hardcore debris from a truck he was driving. However, the skip bin’s door was blocked by an excavator parked nearby. Kasi, who was present at the same time, then operated the excavator to move it out of the way. While doing so, the excavator struck the worker, who was standing next to the truck, causing him to hit his head against the skip bin’s door. He was conveyed to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries the following day.

MOM’s Investigation Findings

3 Investigations revealed that Kasi did not attend any formal training on operating an excavator prior to the accident, and was thus not equipped with the skills to handle an excavator safely. Despite this, he had been operating the excavator on his own within the premises since it was purchased in September 2018.

4 In doing so, Kasi failed in his duty to ensure the safe operation of an excavator as well as the safety of others when carrying out his work. His negligence endangered the safety of a worker, and ultimately caused his death.

5 Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said, “This tragic accident could have been prevented if a trained worker had operated the excavator instead. Kasi’s negligence shows a complete lack of focus on workers’ safety. MOM would like to remind all stakeholders to ensure vehicles and machinery are operated only by trained personnel, to prevent further occurrences of such accidents.”