Diagram 2 The scene of the accident

Dear All,

Relevant Case Study for your information and necessary action on site.

Have a good weekend.


David Simon.

Highest Fine Meted out for a Charge under the Workplace Safety and Health Act

A Company and its Director were fined $200,000 and $100,000 respectively for failing to implement safety and health measures that ultimately contributed to a workplace fatality. Both fines are the highest ever meted out to-date for single charges under the Workplace Safety and Health Act. This signals to companies and their management that it is imperative to take active steps to prevent work accidents.

The work

In this case, the Company was in the business of supplying and installing aluminium doors, windows and glazings at a worksite. On the day of the incident, a supervisor and two workers were tasked to unload 8 crates of glass panels from a container.

The unloading process involved using a forklift to pull, with a webbing sling, each crate slightly out of the container, and then using an overhead crane to hoist the crate away. During the process of pulling out the crate, 2 workers would stand inside the container and use wooden planks to support the crate as it was being pulled out.

The incident

Using this method, the workers managed to successfully unload 5 of the 8 crates from the container. While unloading the 6th crate however, one of the wooden planks held by one of the workers (the deceased) broke. The crate and another one behind it then toppled on and killed one of the workers. The other worker managed to escape unharmed. [SEE BELOW DETAILS]

Investigation findings

Findings by investigators from the Ministry of Manpower revealed that the unloading method was unsafe. The method left each crate in an unstable position, making them susceptible to toppling. The manner of getting a worker to manually prop and support each crate with a wooden plank was also ineffective and unsafe.

The Company and its Director in charge of work operations were found to have failed to take adequate measures to ensure the safe unloading of the crates. Though they were aware of the hazard of the crates toppling onto the workers during the unloading process, they failed to conduct a proper risk assessment, establish adequate safe work procedures, and implement engineering controls to eliminate the hazard. Accordingly, they were charged and convicted under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

WSH Alert –Worker Pinned Under Toppled Crate of Glass Panels


In July this year, three workers were unloading crates of glass panels from a container within the factory premises. The crates were placed vertically within the container. During unloading, a forklift was used to drag the individual crates out, one at a time, by pulling on webbing slings tied to the crates, while two workers used pieces of timber to keep the crates in a vertical position (diagram 1).

In order to hold the timber supports in place, the two workers had to be on the inside of the container as the crates were being dragged out. The incident occurred when the crate that was being dragged out suddenly collapsed onto a worker and pinned him down (diagram 1).

The worker was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident (diagram 2). The other co-worker managed to escape unhurt.

  1. Before the start of any work, always conduct a risk assessment to identify the hazards and the risks involved. Where possible, the hazards should be eliminated and establish suitable control measures for the residual risks to do the work safely.
  2. Review the work process to eliminate the need for workers to manually handle the glass panels during the loading and unloading process. If this is not practicable, safe work procedures (SWP) must be established to address how the workers shall carry out the work safely. Amongst others, workers should position themselves at the ends of the glass crates and not in front or at the sides of the glass crates. This is to prevent the crates from collapsing unto the workers.
  3. Provide adequate training and supervision of the workers so that they can carry out the work properly and safely.
  4. Implement a proper system for storing the glass panels safely in the container (e.g. using rack system, chocks and bracing bars). The system should also take into consideration the safe loading/unloading process.
  5. Forklifts are primarily designed to lift and carry loads and not for pulling and dragging. If forklifts are being used to grab and remove glass panels, suitable attachments such as clamps for grabbing and holding should be fitted to perform the work properly and safely.

Further Information
  • SINGAPORE STANDARD CP 30 : 1985 CODE OF PRACTICE FOR Safe Loading On Vehicles.
  • SINGAPORE STANDARD CP 101 : 2004 CODE OF PRACTICE FOR Safe Use of Powered Counterbalanced Forklift.
  • Risk Assessment Guideline is available HERE.
  • Occupation Safety and Health Technical Advisory – Safe Use of Forklift is Available HERE.