The Coroner’s inquiry into the death of two men who died last year while working at the Nam Heng Leather Dyeing Factory, has concluded that the incident was just an unfortunate accident.
The coroner found that there was no wrong doing or negligence on the part of the company and also noted that the company has since taken steps to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again in future.
The accident happened on December 26 last year at the factory in Tai Seng.
Chinese nationals, Yang Zhonghua, 37, and Zhai Hailei, 25,had been working in the morning at the Nam Heng Leather Dyeing Factory.
Yang was unhooking 2 filter sieves above a giant pit of wastewater which was used for cleaning.
While he was standing above the pit on a small ledge to unhook the sieve, he fell into the pit.
About 7 minutes later, the foreman, Chew Hock Seng, send Zhai to go and check on Yang as he was missing and Chew suspected that Yang may have fallen into the git.
About 5 minutes later, Zhai also failed to report back and Chew gathered all the employees at the pit to search for the two missing workers who had failed to put on any safety harnesses during their job.
The workers then spotted the shirts of the two workers floating up from the pit of wastewater and the two were fished out.
They were rushed to Changi General Hospital but died about a week later on January 4th.
Mr Chew noted that there were safety harnesses at the pits for workers to use but the two workers had not used them. They also failed to wear gloves. The waste water pit was 3m deep and filled 2.5m full of waste water at the time of the incident.
The size of the pit was 0.34m by 1.2m wide. The workers who fell in were unable to reach the top of the tanks and there was little room to effectively tread water.
Workers are required to wear anti-slip boots while in the factory but Yang and Zhai were only wearing slippers at the time.
The coroner found that the workers had to be perched precariously in a squatting position at the end of the pit in order to retrieve the sieves. This meant they would easily fall in if they slipped or felt dizzy from the factory fumes.
Overall, the coroner ruled that the factory had in place certain safety features and Yang had fallen in by accident.
Zhai had died as a result of a “valiant but ultimately futile attempt to save his co-worker”.
It ruled that the two died from lack of oxygen and infection from near-drowning.