SINGAPORE: A professional engineer was fined S$50,000 for failing to exercise due diligence in certifying the safety of 14 scissors lifts, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said on Thursday (Jul 18).
Tan Juay Pah, 61, who was an authorised examiner (AE) for lifting equipment registered with MOM, was convicted of five charges under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.
Ten other charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing, MOM said, adding that Tan's AE status was revoked.
Providing details of the cases, MOM said Tan issued a total of 15 LE Certificates (Certificate of Test/Thorough Visual Examination of Lifting Equipment) between March 2016 and October 2016 for 14 scissors lifts, even though he did not examine nor test the equipment.
"Scissors lifts are used to provide a safe means of access in the form of an elevated work platform for workers carrying out work-at-height activities," the ministry said.
"The failure to detect faulty safety devices or defective structural components of the scissors lifts through a thorough test and examination could lead to catastrophic consequences such as serious injuries or even death."
SCISSORS LIFTS "NEVER EXAMINED"
One of the lessees, who received a copy of the LE Certificate but whose scissors lift was never examined by Tan, reported the case to MOM. The ministry commenced investigations into the LE certificates issued by Tan.
Other lessees confirmed that no test nor examination were carried out by any AE on the scissors lifts before they received the LE Certificates.
In one case, Tan reportedly checked two scissors lifts at Marina Bay Sands on Sep 12, 2016 and certified both as safe for use.
Following investigations, MOM found that both the lifts were deployed and kept within a restricted area in Marina Bay Sands which Tan did not have access to. In another case, MOM found that Tan had merely taken photographs of two scissors lifts and did not conduct any functional tests to check if they were safe for use.
"As a professional entrusted with the responsibility of certifying high-risk machines are safe for use, Tan failed to exercise due diligence during certification which could potentially endanger the safety of persons using the lifting equipment," MOM said.
This is the first time an AE has been convicted for failing to exercise due diligence in making certification or conducting any test or examination of any lifting appliance or machine, the ministry added.
Mohd Ismadi, Director of MOM’s occupational safety and health specialist department said: “By issuing certificates without conducting proper examinations and tests on the scissors lifts, Tan blatantly disregarded his duty as an AE and knowingly put the users of the scissors lifts at risk.
"MOM will not hesitate to take companies or individuals to task for serious breaches that would compromise the safety and health of workers.”
A scissors lift used in a workplace must be thoroughly tested and examined once every six months by an AE who will issue a certificate to indicate that the scissors lift has been checked and is safe for use.
Any person who is convicted of an offence under the Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations may be fined up to S$20,000, and could face a jail term of up to two years.