Family of 23-year-old foreign worker raises questions over his death in industrial accident, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Family of 23-year-old foreign worker raises questions over his death in industrial accident

The relatives of a 23-year-old construction worker from India who died in a workplace accident on Dec 2 are seeking answers to the circumstances of the young man’s death.

Mr Ponraman Eazhumalai, who had worked in Singapore for only eight months as a concrete pump assistant, was caught between the chassis of a concrete pump truck and a retracting outrigger at the worksite for the upcoming Tengah integrated rail and bus depot at 770 Jurong Road.

Outriggers are retractable legs that extend out and away from a concrete pump to provide stability and prevent it from tipping over.

The fatal accident occurred at about 11.20pm, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

Mr Eazhumalai, who was employed by TMC Concrete Pumping Services, was taken to Farrer Park Hospital, where he died of his injuries the next day. The authorities have not said what injuries he had.

According to an incident report seen by The Straits Times, private transport was arranged by the main contractor of the project, China Railway 11 Bureau Group Corp (Singapore branch), to take the worker to the hospital.

Mr Eazhumalai was standing at the back of the concrete pump truck putting away a steel plate, the report said. After the accident, he was able to walk away from the truck, but collapsed shortly afterwards.

Two of his uncles who work in Singapore said his family in Tamil Nadu has been devastated by his death. They asked not to be named for fear of repercussions from speaking out.

Mr Eazhumalai was the breadwinner, supporting his grandfather, parents, an older sister and 13-year-old brother, none of whom is working, his uncles said.

The family has raised questions about the accident, which they hope the authorities would look into.

“Why wasn’t an ambulance called, and why didn’t they take him to the nearest hospital? His life could have been saved,” they said. The uncles said they believed the injury was not serious when they were alerted that same night, but in less than 24 hours, their nephew was dead.

The nearest hospital to the accident site was Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, a five- to 10-minute drive away.

Describing Mr Eazhumalai as smart and keen to learn, the uncles said their nephew was likeable and had a bright future. He had a diploma in mechanical engineering from India and was about to take lessons to get a Class 3 driving licence after obtaining his Class 2B and 3C licences in November.

His death leaves the family with thousands of dollars in debt. The money was used to pay for Mr Eazhumalai’s education and the fees for him to work in the Republic.

“Our family is suffering. We don’t know how we will recover from this. Every day we are talking about this, we cannot sleep, we cannot eat,” the uncles added.

In response to queries, MOM said that as a general safety measure, workers should keep a safe distance from construction equipment and machinery, such as concrete pump trucks and mobile cranes, while they are in operation.

A safety zone should also be clearly marked out to prevent unauthorised access.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA), the developer of the Tengah Depot project, said it was saddened by the fatal accident.

It said it is working with the main contractor and TMC Concrete Pumping Services to help the family of the worker who died. “We are also assisting the Ministry of Manpower and the police with their investigations,” LTA added.

The police, who were alerted to the case on Dec 3, said that based on preliminary investigations, no foul play is suspected.

There have been at least 22 workplace deaths reported in the media since the start of 2023. In comparison, there were 30 workplace deaths in 2020, 37 in 2021 and 46 in 2022.