Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Tuas fatal fire: Inquiry committee probe gets underway with visit to accident site; to report in 3 to 6 months

SINGAPORE — An inquiry committee is expected to complete its investigations into last month's fatal fire and explosion at Tuas within three to six months, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said on Friday (March 5).

Tuas fatal fire: Inquiry committee probe gets underway with visit to accident site; to report in 3 to 6 months

The inquiry committee into the fatal Tuas industrial explosion visits the site at 32E Tuas Avenue 11 on March 5, 2021 with Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State for Manpower.

  • An inquiry committee has begun investigations into the fatal Tuas explosion and fire
  • It is expected to complete its investigations within three to six months
  • It will be led by Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun

 

SINGAPORE — An inquiry committee is expected to complete its investigations into last month's fatal fire and explosion at Tuas within three to six months, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said on Friday (March 5).

Mr Zaqy was speaking during a visit by the committee, led by Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun, to the site of the accident, which left three workers dead and five others badly injured.

"We hope to have the findings ready within three to six months," he said.

Once the committee completes its investigation, it will make recommendations to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on how to prevent such accidents from recurring.

District Judge Ong previously served as the senior state counsel leading evidence in the inquiry into the collapse of the Circle Line at Nicoll Highway on April 20, 2004, which killed four workers.

He will be assisted by Engineer Lucas Ng Hong Kiang, the general manager of plant at Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore, and Dr Peter Nagler, the chief innovation officer at A*Star.

The committee accompanied Mr Zaqy to inspect the accident site at an industrial unit located at 32E Tuas Avenue 11 on Friday.

The committee members were unable to provide comments to the media as investigations are ongoing.

However, Mr Zaqy said that aside from examining the site, the committee will be interviewing the five critically injured workers who have all left the intensive care unit. All five and the deceased were migrant workers.

TODAY previously reported that the industrial unit's occupant was Stars Engrg, which deals with fire protection systems, and the incident was believed to have been caused by a combustible dust explosion.

The dust took the form of potato starch powder, a material used as part of the company's production processes.

A fund-raising effort by migrant worker advocacy group ItsRainingRaincoats, which ended on Wednesday, raised more than S$608,000, far surpassing its goal of S$300,000.

ItsRainingRaincoats said donations will be “equally distributed” among the eight victims and the funds will be held by the platform Give.asia and disbursed to the accounts of the victims’ immediate family members.

Mr Zaqy said MOM has ramped up inspections relating to combustible dusts, and it will be covering 500 more sites that are considered more risky to ensure that incidents like the one in Tuas do not happen again.

Mr Zaqy said Singapore has come quite far since the Nicoll Highway incident, from 4.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers to 1.1 per 100,000 workers presently. “We are determined to make Singapore one of the safest places (in the world),” he said.

'THINK ABOUT YOUR WORKERS'

Separately, Mr Zaqy cited three possible factors that may have led to a spate of workplace accidents recently. In February, there were a total of 11 fatalities.

The first, he said, is that employers might be rushing to meet deadlines due to the delays caused by last year's Covid-19 circuit breaker period when projects were put on hold.

Second, he said that while the pandemic has resulted in new public health safety measures, some employers have not factored in these new conditions into their risk assessments.

Finally, he said that due to team segregation — to mitigate the potential spread of the coronavirus — the right person for the job may not be present when needed.

"If you want (your workers) to cover the duties of others, they must be trained well and taught the relevant safety measures too," he said.

"If they are not trained, please do not put them in that position."

Citing two fatalities last month, he said one involved a forklift driver who was not qualified to operate it, and the other was a boom operator who was similarly not trained to do the work.

“These are irresponsible measures by employers, or some supervisors too, and we must cut out and stop these practices.”

Mr Zaqy urged employers to “think about their workers” and added that the ministry wants workers to come forward if they witness any contravention of safety rules at the workplace.

Related topics

Committee of Inquiry MOM fire death industrial unit Tuas

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa