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WORKER WHO FELL TO HIS DEATH WHILE PAINTING BEDOK CONDO, “LIKELY CONSUMED ALCOHOL”

A coroner’s inquiry has shed light on the tragic demise of Hla Thein Aung, a 37-year-old construction worker from Myanmar, who fell four storeys to his death while painting a condominium in Bedok, according to a report by Channel NewsAsia.

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The inquiry, held on Tuesday (Jan 16), uncovered details surrounding the incident that occurred on January 12, 2023, making it the first workplace fatality reported in 2023.

Was Standing On Aircon Ledge

Hla Thein Aung, employed by ISOTeam C&P, was tasked with painting the exterior wall and aircon ledge of a block at the Waterfront Isle condominium along Bedok Reservoir Road. Alongside a co-worker, both of whom were connected to a lifeline in the morning and equipped with standard safety gear, they took a lunch break around noon.

After the break, Hla Thein Aung, seemingly influenced by his seniority, opted not to connect his harness to the lifeline, a crucial personal fall protection system. His co-worker, reluctant to remind him of the safety measures, observed as Hla Thein Aung proceeded to work without the necessary precautions.

Tragically, around 4.10 pm, a loud bang was heard, and Hla Thein Aung was discovered lying motionless at the basement level. An investigation revealed that he had removed his safety equipment, including his helmet and boots, shortly before the fall.

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Likely To Have Consumed Alcohol or Drugs

The court learned that the company failed to identify a safe means of accessing the ledge for the painting job, violating safety regulations. Despite a stop-work order issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and a three-month ban on employing new foreign workers, ISOTeam C&P lifted the order after implementing a revised safety system.

A toxicology report indicated the presence of substances, including nitrazepam, in Hla Thein Aung’s urine and blood, potentially affecting his motor skills and balance. The police also found that the deceased had also “likely consumed alcohol or drugs before or during his work period”.

The investigation also uncovered a prior prescription of paracetamol and a tendency for medical leave on Mondays and Tuesdays, along with occasional alcohol consumption.

No Foul Play

The police found no evidence of foul play, and MOM’s investigation officer, Mr. Mohd Hafidz, emphasized the importance of maintaining “100 per cent tie-off” for workers at elevated heights. The revised safety system now involves rope access technicians performing tasks in unreachable areas, ensuring workers are secured at all times.

State Coroner Adam Nakhoda will provide his findings at a later date. As the details of this tragic incident emerge, it serves as a stark reminder of the critical need for adherence to safety regulations in the workplace, particularly in high-risk occupations like construction.

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