The following article was published in the Straits Times on 10 July 2010.
Death in kitchen: Raffles Marina fined $80,000
By Elena Chong, Courts Correspondent
Straits Times, Jul 10, 2010
Worker died after slipping and falling on wet, greasy floor
The work area (above) where Mr Halim fell and bled to death last May had not not been free of slipping and tripping hazards.
CLAD in safety boots, senior steward Abdul Halim Allaudin, 19, was carrying a rack of wine goblets in the kitchen of a bistro at the Raffles Marina in May last year when he slipped and fell.
The glassware went flying and shattered on impact. One shard cut his neck, as it happened, in the carotid artery, a major blood vessel.
With blood spurting, he got up, stumbled and then collapsed. He bled to death.
Yesterday, Raffles Marina was fined $80,000 for failing to ensure that its kitchen was a safe workplace.
It is the first conviction of an occupier of a restaurant since the Workplace Safety and Health Act was extended in March 2008 to include the food and beverage industry. Before that, the act covered only general factories, worksites and shipyards. Besides restaurants, workplaces in the health care, veterinary, water supply, landscape care and maintenance-service sectors are now also covered by the law.
Ministry of Manpower (MOM) inspectors who went to inspect the kitchen of the Marina Bistro Coffee House following the accident found the floor of its washing area wet, greasy and slippery.
No anti-slip mats were present, and the area where Mr Halim fell had tiles that were less slip-resistant than the tiles originally used; the court heard that the original non-slip tiles had been damaged and replaced. The court also heard housekeeping had not been carried out to ensure that the work area was free of slipping and tripping hazards.
District Judge Shaiffudin Saruwan said he could infer that Mr Halim fell because the floor was slippery, and that this was something the marina could have addressed.
Lawyer Thong Chee Kun, who represented Raffles Marina, said in mitigation that his client had since put safety measures in place to prevent a repeat incident.
Apart from placing non-slip mats on wet floors, it has replaced the floor tiles with non-slip ones, and now puts its employees through workplace safety and fire-fighting training.
The lawyer said the insurers had paid compensation to Mr Halim’s family, who also received staff donations of $5,150. He did not elaborate on the compensation amount.
Professional counselling services were also given to the family and staff members affected by the accident, he said.
Mr Ho Siong Hin, the Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health in MOM, said the marina’s conviction was a warning to all to make workplace safety and health a priority.
He said: ‘In this instance, the employer’s absence of risk assessment and the lack of workplace safety measures contributed to the tragic and unnecessary loss of a life.’
Mr Robert Bird, the marina’s chief executive officer, said it was a deeply regrettable and unfortunate accident.
‘We have since been working closely with the Ministry of Manpower and an independent safety consultant to enhance the safety of our workplace,’ he added.
The company could have been fined up to $500,000 for the offence.