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Shell fined $400,000 for 2015 fire that injured 6 workers

This article is more than 12 months old

Oil giant Shell was fined $400,000 yesterday for a fire at its Pulau Bukom refinery in 2015.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the Aug 21 fire, which injured six workers, was because of a systemic failure by Shell to check if different work activities could be carried out in the area at the same time.

Two workers suffered between 50 per cent and 70 per cent burns.

On that day, two groups of workers were simultaneously conducting maintenance and project works on a crude distillation unit at the refinery.

The first group was carrying out hot works on a scaffold on the level above the ground floor. They were using a blow torch from an oxy-acetylene cylinder to cut and dismantle pipes.

The second group was carrying out cold works on the ground floor, draining out residual flammable hydrocarbons from a pipeline into a nearby pit.

When a worker opened a valve to start the draining, flammable vapours came into contact with sparks from the hot works and started the fire.

Shell was charged under section 11(a) of the Workplace Safety and Health Act for failing to implement adequate control measures to ensure compatibility of works carried out at the refinery.

Mr Go Heng Huat, MOM's director of the major hazards department, said the refinery, as a major hazard installation, must properly manage safety and risk control measures.

He added: "The lives of workers and the public could have been put at risk because adequate control measures were not properly implemented.

"Even though there was no loss of life in this case, the potential for more severe consequences was evident.

"MOM will continue to strengthen its enforcement of companies' workplace safety and health practices, including prosecution when there have been infringements that put the lives of workers at risk."

COURT & CRIME