The Straits Times reported, 1 December 2016, a coroner’s finding that Kabir Mohammad Faysal, 29, had been electrocuted while using a water jet to clean the floor at a housing estate. The motor of the jet had not been grounded and he was barefoot as he did his job.
The Straits Times reported:
In his findings on Tuesday (Nov 29), State Coroner Marvin Bay said the ATL Maintenance employee of almost five years had been tasked to clean and clear rubbish around residential estates.
Faysal, a Bangladeshi national, had been washing the rear of Block 158, Hougang Street 11, on 5 June 2016, when he collapsed suddenly. A witness performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him before the paramedics arrived. Faysal was rushed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital unconscious, but died about two hours later.
Continuing, the Straits Times wrote:
Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower showed that the water jet’s motor assembly and switch to be in good condition. But the cables of the plug were not well terminated. The live cable had been connected but was too long, and had been crammed inside the plug, compared to the neutral cable that was neatly connected to its terminal.
The ground cable was too short to be connected to its terminal and had its exposed end located near the live terminal.
Coroner Bay said Mr Faysal had received an electric shock when he came into contact with the energised metallic body of the spray gun.
His death was an “unfortunate industrial misadventure”, said the coroner.
Apart from the misassembled plug, another major contributory cause has been Mr Faysal’s failure to use any footwear while operating the electrically powered high pressure water jet, said Coroner Bay.
“Had Mr Faysal been using safety footwear, his shoes might well have provided adequate insulation to prevent a circuit from being completed through his body, and the lethal current consequently causing his demise,” he said.
The questions are need to be followed up are whether there is any safety protocol for inspecting and certifying such water jet machines; whether the electrical plugs that come with such machines are properly guarded against disconnection of wires from frequent tugging; and whether the operational protocol of requiring workers to wear safety boots is diligently followed.
Related too is the question of the quality of safety boots. Workers often report that they are given substandard equipment and despite wear and tear, have to pay for replacement items themselves. With their low wages, they can’t really afford to bear such costs, so they take risks instead.