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Pantech Business Hub where the fatal accident took place. (Source: Google map screenshot).

Equipment calibration and testing company fined $200,000 by MOM for safety lapses in fatal accident

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has announced to charge equipment calibration and testing company MW Group with a $200,000 fine for failing to "conduct a specific risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an Arc Reflection System (ARS) machine prior to the accident", resulting to a death of one of its employees due to electrocution on 7 November 2013.

Energy Market Authority (EMA) stated that according to its investigation, MW Group had conducted a generic risk assessment for electrical testing prior to the accident. However, despite the fact that electrocution was identified as a hazard during the assessment, no control measures were put in place to prevent the "reasonable foreseeable risk".

The deceased and employee of MW Group, Mr Suyambu Suman was asked to test and calibrate the ARS machine at Pantech Business Hub.

He held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from 2kV to 12kV. As the DC output voltage level of the ARS gradually built up to 12kV, the potential difference between Mr Suyambu's body and the grip assembly, which is the output cable with high voltage probe, may have exceeded the electric breakdown strength of the air gap and caused a flashover.

Mr Suyambu subsequently fell backwards and became unconscious. He passed away on the same day, with the cause of death certified to be electrocution.

The investigation also concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the start of the high voltage calibration works, adding that Mr Suyambu also did not maintain a safe working distance of approximately 1.5m from the "live" terminals.

Mr Chan Yew Kwong, MOM Director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, said, "The employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution and yet failed to provide the technicians with a step by step guide on how to do the job safely."