29-Year-Old Bangladeshi Killed When Part Of Sheet Pile Fell On Him, LTA Calls For Safety Time-Out At Work Site

The issue of construction worksite safety has come into focus recently after 5 workers passed away across Singapore in the 10 days between 23 Nov and 2 Dec.

The incidents led to the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council calling for a safety time-out.

Unfortunately, shortly after that, a 6th fatal workplace accident involving a migrant worker occurred, this time at a worksite near the Changi MRT Depot.

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The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has said it’s saddened by the death.

Part of sheet pile fell on worker

The latest incident took place on Tuesday (15 Dec) at Koh Sek Lim Road, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) told The Straits Times (ST).

The road is off Upper Changi Road East, and leads into the worksite of the Changi MRT Depot.

A bird’s eye view of the MRT train depot near Changi — taken in 2014
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During the tragic incident, a group of workers were extracting sheet piles, said the WSH Council in a bulletin.

Usually made of steel, sheet piles are driven into the ground to support excavation by retaining the surrounding soil.

A welding joint, which joined 2 sheet piles together, broke and caused the top part of the sheet pile to fall on a worker.

The 29-year-old Bangladeshi was pronounced dead on site, the LTA told ST.

The accident was reported to the police at 9.58am, ST also reported.

Latest incident took place on 15 Dec

At the site of the accident, a project is ongoing to build viaduct tracks that serve the East Coast Integrated Depot (ECID), a new 4-in-1 project comprising 3 train depots and 1 bus depot.

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It will serve the East-West Line, Thomson-East Coast Line and Downtown Line.

According to Lum Chang Building Contractors, the LTA awarded the company a contract to add a platform to the nearby Tanah Merah MRT station, as well as tracks that will connect to the ECID.

The contract is valued at $325 million.

LTA saddened, calls safety time-out at work site

The LTA also told ST that it’s saddened by the fatality, and will provide the victim’s family with assistance together with Lum Chang.

It added that following the fatal incident, a safety time-out has been called at the work site.

The contractor will take this time to review processes related to sheet pile extraction.

The agency also told project teams and contractors that worksite safety measures should be adhered to.

MOM has started looking into the incident, and the LTA is helping with the investigations.

Construction industry warned of complacency

The tragedy took place just 11 days after NTUC assistant secretary-general Melvin Yong raised concerns over the recent spate of workplace fatalities.

He wondered if companies were taking shortcuts due to the backlog of work accumulated during the suspension of construction activities during the ‘Circuit Breaker’.

He also questioned whether the focus on safe management measures to guard against the spread of Covid-19 could have caused people to compromise on workplace safety.

As we move towards Phase 3 and the resumption of more business and construction activities, he said the latest fatalities should be a “critical and grim” reminder for the construction industry.

The safety time-out called by the WSH Council has prompted several associations to pledge their support by advising companies to review their safety measures and protocols by 23 Dec.

However, it might have come to late for the worker who was sadly passed way on Tuesday (15 Dec).

Any workplace death is one too many

Any workplace death is one too many, especially if they could have been avoided.

Thus, workplace safety practices are of the utmost importance to avoid more families experiencing the tragedy of their loved ones being taken from them in an accident.

MS News sends our condolences to the family of the worker who passed away, and hope they’ll be well cared for.

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Featured image adapted from Google Maps