Fatal train accident sparks HR safety investigation

by Miklos Bolza23 Mar 2016
Two SMRT maintenance staff were killed yesterday morning (22 March), hit by an oncoming train while on the tracks near Pasir Ris Station.
 
Investigations have been launched by SMRT and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) to determine how and why the men were on the tracks in the first place.
 
“Exactly how it is that [the two men] were hit by an oncoming train when there was a clear line of sight, and when there was a supervisor ahead of them, is the subject of the investigation,” SMRT chief executive Desmond Kuek told reporters yesterday evening.
 
“The investigation is ongoing and we’re also supporting the police and [MOM] as they conduct their investigation and we should be able to get to some of the reasons why this has happened.”
 
The victims were undertaking on-the-job training. They were walking behind their supervisor who was leading a team of 15 single file along the maintenance walkway on the side of the tracks. Nobody else in the team was hurt in the incident.
 
SMRT Trains managing director Lee Ling Wee told reporters this type of activity was routine, occurring a “few times a month”.
 
“After proper training and safety [briefing], it is all right for them to access the track,” he said.
 
“When we detect a fault and we need to troubleshoot it, the first course of action is to go down onto the site to determine what is the cause,” Kuek added.
 
“The only way to do so, to get access to the track while service is on, is to walk on the side with supervision and control from the ops control centre, with all the safety and permissions granted. This is a controlled and supervised activity.”
 
SMRT’s vice-president for corporate information and communications Patrick Nathan also spoke to reporters.
 
“Permission to access the track was authorised,” he said. “Initial findings indicate that before the accident happened, the team was moving in a single file on the walkway beside the track, on the way to the location of the signalling equipment.”
 
Kuek said that support is being offered to the families of the victims as well as all colleagues who knew him. Compensation will also be provided “as part of our typical HR process,” he said.
 
The Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan also weighed into the discussion in a Facebook post.
 
“MOM is currently investigating the incident to find out what happened and to prevent a similar incident in future,” he wrote. “Safety at the workplace is of paramount importance. We must all do our part and work together to ensure a safe working environment for all workers.”
 
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