Worker killed at Changi East construction site in third death linked to project since 2019
A 30-year-old construction worker died in a workplace accident on Thursday at the site of the Changi East project, which includes the construction of Terminal 5 (T5) and a new runway for Changi Airport.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Ministry of Manpower (MOM) spokesman said the accident happened at about 4.45pm, in the area within Changi Airport, at the Changi East Perimeter Roadway.
The worker, an Indian national, was operating a type of heavy equipment called a skid-steer loader – used to move or load materials – when he was fatally hit by a broken component while still inside the cabin.
The spokesman said: “MOM is investigating the incident and has instructed the occupier to stop all machinery operations at the worksite.”
He added that, as a general safety measure, all machinery and equipment must be used and maintained in line with the manufacturer’s recommendation.
The MOM spokesman said the developer of the project is the Changi Airport Group (CAG), and the worksite occupier is a joint venture between Hock Lian Seng Infrastructure and the former Sembcorp Design and Construction, which was acquired by the Chip Eng Seng Corporation in 2019.
The joint venture is also the man’s employer.
The Straits Times has contacted the Hock Lian Seng Group and Chip Eng Seng Corporation for more information.
Checks on the firms’ websites show that the joint venture was working on the development of Changi East and Changi Airport’s three-runway operations.
A CAG spokesman said the group is working with the employer to help the dead worker’s family.
He declined to provide further details, citing ongoing investigations by the police.
Responding to queries, the police said they do not suspect foul play.
This is not the first workplace death at the Changi East project.
In November 2021, a 43-year-old Indian national died from injuries after the machine he was operating toppled and trapped him in the cabin.
The machine – a vibratory roller – is used to compact soil, and was part of land preparation and ground improvement works for the project.
The first workplace death linked to the project occurred in February 2019, when a 27-year-old Indian national was hit by a tipper truck.
The latest fatal workplace accident is believed to be the second one in Singapore this week, which brings the country’s workplace death tally to at least 16 in 2023.
On June 1, MOM lifted the heightened safety period that it imposed in September 2022 as part of efforts to curb the number of workplace fatalities.
The six-month period was expected to end on Feb 28, but was extended to May 31.
In 2022, there were 46 workplace deaths in Singapore – the highest annual figure since 2016, when there were 66 deaths.
Radin Mas MP Melvin Yong, who is also NTUC director of industrial relations (field), in a Facebook post on Friday, said: “I am most saddened to learn that another worker lost his life whilst at work, a mere three days after the last workplace fatality on July 10.”
Mr Yong added that a safe workplace is a fundamental right of every worker, and all companies must have a rigorous maintenance regime for their equipment, with regular checks and scheduled preventive maintenance.
This, he said, is to ensure there will be no equipment malfunction or other issues that might put workers and others at risk.
Mr Yong said: “In the event that the equipment or environment is not deemed to be safe during any of the checks, it is pertinent that workers are encouraged and empowered to speak up and inform the relevant personnel, and not resume operations until the issues have been resolved.
“Similarly, companies need to act swiftly when such feedback is received and put workers’ safety ahead of work and productivity.”
He added that so far, there have been five workplace fatalities less than two months out of the heightened safety period implemented by MOM.
Mr Yong said he plans to raise the issue in Parliament next month, and suggest ways to improve workplace safety.