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Construction manager sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment for negligient act which led to death of worker

1. Kong Chiew Fook (“Kong”), the 55-year-old construction manager of Springview Enterprises Pte Ltd (“Springview”), was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment for offences under section 15(3A) of the Workplace Safety and Health Act (“WSHA”) on 15 June 2022.  He pleaded guilty to committing a negligent act, which resulted in the death of a worker and serious injuries to another worker.

Case Summary

2. On 4 March 2019, three workers were carrying out construction work on a two-storey semi-detached house under the instruction of Kong. As part of the construction works, they were required to perform demolition works, including the hacking of walls. 

3. While the workers were hacking the balcony walls on the second floor, a floor slab gave way and collapsed, pinning a worker underneath it. Another worker was thrown out of a one-tier scaffold and landed on the ground floor. Other workers helped extricate the pinned worker by using an excavator to lift the floor slab. The worker was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene. The other injured worker was conveyed to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, which included multiple fractures.

MOM's Investigation Findings

4. Investigations revealed that Kong was provided with the demolition plan and the method statement for demolition works. The statement required demolition works to be carried out with strict compliance to the Singapore Standards SS 557:2010 “Code of Practice on Demolition”. Kong was aware that the top-down (i.e. from roof to ground) demolition method must be used to ensure structural stability.

5. Instead, Kong instructed the workers to follow an unsafe demolition sequence by hacking away the supporting walls of the ground-level balcony about a month prior to the accident. This meant that the second-level balcony floor did not have structural support underneath it. Kong then instructed them to hack the structures on the balcony floor slab of the second floor, which resulted in the fatal workplace accident.

6. Springview and its Director, Heng Kong Chuan, are also facing charges for failing to take reasonably practicable steps in ensuring the safety of Springview’s workers.

7. Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM’s Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said, “Under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, we can hold managers or supervisors personally accountable for safety and health lapses as shown by Kong’s imprisonment. In light of this case and a fatal demolition accident on 10 June, MOM would like to remind all contractors that there must be thorough risk assessments for any demolition works. The sequence of demolition and control measures must be clearly communicated to the team and strictly adhered to during the demolition process.  Ensuring workplace safety and health requires the commitment by all parties from management to supervisors to individual workers.”