SINGAPORE: A company was fined S$50,000 by a district court on Wednesday for workplace safety lapses that led to the death of a lorry driver in the sea off Pasir Panjang Terminal in December 2011.
52-year-old Ng Teck Hai, who is the director of Trans-Island Marine, pleaded guilty to failing to take measures that would ensure that the workplace was safe, and without risks to the health of every person within the premises.
Trans-Island Marine is a company that is involved in the operation of barges and tugboats for the purposes of sea transportation.
The court heard that 37-year-old driver Jason Lim Wei Kwan was inside a lorry that was on a barge when the incident happened.
As the barge was being towed by a tugboat, the lorry rolled backward and fell into the sea.
Mr Lim drowned and his body was recovered a few days later.
According to court documents, this happened on the return journey from Pulau Sebarok to Singapore on December 10, 2011 after Mr Lim and his co-worker Mr Shaan Seloras had delivered bulk containers of chemicals.
Mr Seloras had gotten out of the lorry to go to the toilet when he saw the lorry rolling backwards towards the ramp of the barge.
As the lorry rolled backwards, it broke the port chain which acted as a barricade to prevent items from falling off the barge and into the sea.
Mr Seloras quickly alerted Mr Lim but he did not have enough time to get out of the lorry.
Investigations showed that the company did not effectively tie down the lorry onto the barge to prevent it from moving during the journey and fail to ensure that the lorry's wheels were choked.
The company also did not remind the lorry drivers to apply the handbrakes before the start of the journey and take measures to stop workers from remaining in the lorry while it was on the barge.
The district judge had stern words for Ng and said he had a duty to ensure certain measures were in place as he is involved in a high-risk business.
Mr Ng said his company is no longer in the tugboat business and expressed regret for the accident.
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