M.C. Packaging, a manufacturer of metal tins and containers in Singapore, has been charged in relation to two workplace deaths that occurred in 2016. The firm was charged on two counts under section 12 (1) of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) stated.

Its former factory manager, Hew Po Leong, was earlier charged on 25 June this year, on two counts under section 15 (1)(b) of the Act for both incidents, for reasons including:

  • Failure to ensure the implementation of the company's safe work procedures, in relation to the first incident which occurred on 16 June 2016; and
  • Failure to escalate a traffic management plan to the company for implementation on 26 December 2016, the date of the second incident.

Hew pleaded guilty of these yesterday (16 July).

About the fatal incidents

Incident #1 involved a can palletiser machine on 16 June 2016

At 7.25am on 16 June 2016, 33-year-old Wang Meifang, a Chinese national, was cleaning an empty can palletiser machine when she was caught between parts of it. She was sent to the hospital before succumbing to her injuries on that same day.

In relation to this incident, M.C. Packaging was charged for failing to do the following:

  • Conduct and implement adequate risk assessment for work involving the cleaning of a palletiser;
  • Implement safe work procedures, including an effective lock-out tag-out procedure;
  • Provide adequate supervision; and
  • Install guards to moving parts of the palletiser, and had, therefore, breached its duty to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees.

Incident #2 involved a forklift accident on 26 December 2016

At around 11.30am on 26 December 2016, 53-year-old Singaporean See Ley Heo was hit by a reversing forklift while walking across the production area. She was then sent to the hospital but subsequently succumbed to her injuries two days later.

In relation to this incident, M.C. Packaging was charged for failing to:

  • Conduct an adequate risk assessment and safe work procedures for forklift-related activities; and
  • Adequately implement a traffic management plan within the factory, and had, therefore, breached its duty to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure the safety and health of its employees.

Commenting on the charges, Sebastian Tan, Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate Department, MOM, said: "Control measures such as lock-out tag-out for maintenance of equipment and traffic management plan for forklift operations are basic safety measures that every employer should be aware of.

"The company failed to put these in place and two lives were lost."

In accordance with the Work Injury Compensation Act, the families of both deceased employees have each received compensation of around S$200,000 from the work injury insurer.

Photo / 123RF