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Bakery fined S$90k for worker’s death in factory

Bakery fined S$90k for worker’s death in factory
The location where the employee had slipped. Photo: Ministry of Manpower

Bakery fined S$90k for worker’s death in factory

Employee suffered traumatic brain injury after slipping on oily, wet floor at workplace

SINGAPORE — Local bakery Commonwealth Culinary Creations has been fined S$90,000 for failing to keep the workplace at its factory in Boon Lay safe, after an employee died as a result of hitting her head on the ground when she slipped on an oily and wet floor.

Shella Lee Shin Shin, 39, suffered severe traumatic brain injury in the incident on Aug 21, 2015, and was pronounced brain dead the following evening.

Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that the bakery had failed to keep floor safe, to provide anti-slip floor mats, and to install warning signs. 

The company was charged under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

A coroner’s inquiry last year heard that Lee’s responsibility as retail and merchandising operations manager was to ensure there was enough ready-to-eat confectionery for sale.

The night before her fall, the factory suffered a power failure. 

Worried that there would not be enough products for the next day, Lee went to the factory at about midnight to check on operations.

Workers preparing dough for baking had to spray an oil-based substance on the dough. 

They took trays of dough out of a freezer and left them to defrost. Because of condensation, the floor became slick with water and oil.

At about 1.15am, a delivery driver called out to greet Lee. 

She slipped and fell backwards, hitting her head. 

She was wearing a pair of her own shoes that had worn-out soles rather than safety shoes, the coroner’s inquiry was told.

At the hearing, State Coroner Marvin Bay stressed the importance of adhering to safety procedures. 

“Falls and other industrial mishaps can occur in even the most innocuous of circumstances. The donning of appropriate safety equipment can do much to avert accidents, or mitigate the risk of injury or death should accidents nevertheless occur,” he added.

In a press release on Wednesday (May 17), MOM’s director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate, Mr Chan Yew Kwong, said the bakery did have control measures proposed in its risk assessment, but the company had failed to implement them.

“This is an unfortunate accident which could have been prevented if the company had taken simple precautionary safety measures,” said Mr Chan. “Safety should never be taken for granted.”