SINGAPORE – A cleaning and landscaping company was fined $190,000 on Tuesday (Sept 24) after a worker died while cutting a tree.

Sin Eng Cleaning Services pleaded guilty in court for failing to take adequate safety measures to protect a worker who was cutting a tree.

The fatal workplace incident happened on Aug 27, 2015, at around 2pm when Indian national Chinniah Ganeshan was using a chainsaw to cut a section of a tree, and a sawn section fell and struck him. He fell from the tree but remained suspended in mid-air by his harness and lanyard, about 23m above ground.

He was brought to the ground an hour later but died of chest and neck injuries at the worksite at around 4.20pm.

The company was hired to cut six trees over a few weeks in August 2015 at a vacant site behind 62 Kheam Hock Road in Bukit Timah, where the incident occurred.

Sin Eng had failed to conduct adequate risk assessment and establish safe work procedures, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a statement on Wednesday. Instead, Sin Eng left its workers to decide how they were to complete their tasks.

Sin Eng also failed to develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that might arise during tree cutting. The deceased was the only certified tree climber in the company and no other competent climber could come to his aid during the incident.

Mr Sebastian Tan, MOM’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate, said: “The employer has severely compromised the safety of its workers by failing to identify and address the risks associated with the cutting of trees. This process of risk management was especially critical given that there was a change in work method.

“The accident could have been prevented if the employer had reviewed the risk assessment, implemented control measures for the new work method and communicated these measures to its workers. MOM will ensure that errant companies take full responsibility for endangering workers’ lives.”