Fines raised for construction firm over workers’ deaths

by HRD19 Dec 2016
The Singaporean High Court recently raised the fines imposed on GS Engineering and Construction Corporation in connection with the death of two of their employees after it deemed the original fine was not enough of a deterrent.

Prosecutors appealed the original $150,000 fine and had asked the courts to double the amount.

However, while the courts agreed that the original amount was “on the low side”, judicial commissioner See Kee Oon felt that doubling it was not warranted and allowed $100,000 to be added, amounting to a total of $250,000.

According to a report by TODAYOnline, this is the first successful appeal made for an offence covered by the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

“Workplace deaths can be prevented, if all relevant stakeholders — workplace occupiers, contractors, employers and employees alike — play their part,” said deputy public prosecutors Ang Feng Qian and Mansoor Amir.

“It is timely that our courts send a clear sentencing position to deter unsafe workplace practices and promote a safety-conscious work culture.”

“The court must convey the message that the continued incidence of preventable deaths and injuries is wholly unacceptable.”

While they lauded the victory, Ang and Amir still believe that “some structure” needs to be established by the law when it comes to workplace safety.

“The prosecution proposed for the starting points and range of sentences to take into account the culpability of the offender and the potential harm resulting from its actions,” said the report.

This case revolved around the deaths of two Bangladeshi workers in early 2014 after they fell more than 20 metres “to the ground while loading an 800kg air compressor onto an unsecured platform at the construction of two towers at Fusionopolis Way in Buona Vista”.

Eyewitnesses at the time said both workers had expressed concern over the safety protocols of their duty but went unheeded by management and the coroner deemed their deaths preventable.

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