Manual Workers welding at Construction site while standing on scissor lift (Photo by Allard One from Shutterstock).

Professional engineer fined $50,000 for certifying 14 scissor lifts being safe for use, without examining or test

Tan Juay Pah, a 61-year-old Professional Engineer and an Authorised Examiner (AE) for Lifting Equipment (LE) registered with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) was fined $50,000 on 24 June 2019, for his failure to exercise due diligence in certifying 14 scissor lifts safe for use.

Tay was convicted of five charges under the Workplace Safety and Health (“WSH”) Act, and 10 other charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing. In addition, MOM has revoked Tan’s AE status.

In a press release on Thursday (18 July), MOM stated that this is the first time an AE has been convicted for failing to exercise due diligence in making a certification or conducting any test or examination of any lifting appliance or machine.

The ministry noted that under the WSH Act, a scissor lift used in a workplace must be thoroughly tested and examined once every six months by an AE who will issue a Certificate of Test/Thorough Visual Examination of Lifting Equipment (“LE Certificate”) to indicate that the scissor lift has been checked and is safe for use.

According to the ministry, Tan issued a total of 15 LE Certificates for 14 scissor lifts between March and October 2016, even though he did not examine nor test the equipment (he certified one of the scissors lift twice).

The LE Certificates were issued to the owners of the scissor lifts who distributed copies to their respective lessees, said the ministry.

However, 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. This resulted in the commencement of investigations by the ministry into the LE certificates issued by Tan.

During the investigation, other lessees confirmed that no test nor examination was carried out by any AE on the scissor lifts before they received the LE Certificates.

“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,” the ministry said.

Scissor 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 failure to detect faulty safety devices or defective structural components of the scissor lifts through a thorough test and examination could lead to catastrophic consequences such as serious injuries or even death.

Er. Mohd Ismadi, Director of MOM’s Occupational Safety and Health Specialist Department said, “By issuing certificates without conducting proper examinations and tests on the scissor lifts, Tan blatantly disregarded his duty as an AE and knowingly put the users of the scissor 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.”

Under regulation 21(15)(d) of the Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations, AEs have the duty to exercise all due diligence in making any certification or in conducting any test or examination of any lifting appliance or lifting machine. Any person who is convicted of an offence under the Regulation may be fined up to $20,000, and/or jailed for up to two years.

MOM encouraged all employers and employees with any information on AEs with poor professional conduct to contact MOM at 6317 1111 or email [email protected]. All information will be kept strictly confidential.