In May 2013, Chinese national Wang Baoshun was hit in the eye by a piece of nail he had been hammering while employed by B19 Technologies.
After the incident, he was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a slight corneal abrasion and put on seven days of medical leave.
A medical report from the Singapore National Eye Centre reports that the injury healed in a matter of days. Wang then worked for B19 for a further year after the incident.
He later asked his employer to cover the surgical costs to fix the aphakia – a condition when the lens is missing – in his left eye. Despite Wang having this condition for 25 years, B19 paid $9,000 to insert an artificial lens in his eye in May 2014. The firm also paid his monthly salary of $3,000 during this time.
In August, Wang gave notification that he wanted to return to China. B19 bought him a plane ticket and offered him a $1,500 goodwill sum.
A month later, he returned to Singapore to sue B19, claiming he had suffered a “serious” eye injury as a result of the firm’s negligence.
Speaking to The Straits Times
, B19 managing director Kang Choon Boon said he felt “betrayed” after giving $13,000 to Wang.
“We treated him with all the kindness and support we could give. We never thought he would turn around and do this,” he said.
While Wang claimed the firm had failed to provide him with safety goggles for use during work, he later admitted when cross-examined that he had simply not worn them that day.
“When we hear of a foreign worker injuring himself as a result of an industrial accident, we are instantly moved to sympathy,” District Judge Chiah Kok Khun wrote in a statement last Monday (4 July).
“However... not every employer of an injured worker is the callous businessman in relentless pursuit of profits, no more than every injured worker is the hapless victim of an employer’s oversight.”
The judge will hear from both parties about settling legal costs at a later date.
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