Accident Advisory: Worker found lying near excavator

Ref No.: 030220 (2)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Accident Advisory: Worker found lying near excavator

Ref: 1920081 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 27 December 2019

On 20 December 2019, a worker was found lying on the ground in an open yard, near an excavator, with head injuries. He was last known to be parking an excavator when the track shoe of the excavator dislodged. He was likely attempting to reattach the track shoe when he got injured. The worker was conveyed to the hospital where he passed away on 26 December 2019.


Persons in control of similar workplaces and work activities such as employers, principals and contractors are advised to consider the following risk control measures to prevent similar accidents:

Safe Recovery Procedure 

  • Only workers who have been specifically trained on proper field recovery safe work procedure should carry out the recovery task. They must be provided with the necessary tools and equipment.
  • A suitable exclusion zone must be set up and maintained around the recovery area. Workers involved in the recovery operation must stay outside the exclusion zone as recovery equipment, such as recovery lines, are brought to tension.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment such as head or face protection should be provided to workers who are performing recovery operations.

Preventive Maintenance

  • Ensure that all excavators are properly maintained so that they are in good working order
  • A planned maintenance regime should be established and every excavator maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Routine inspections, servicing and repairs should only be performed by qualified technicians.

Hazard Awareness and Risk Communication

  • Prior to work commencement, workers should be briefed (e.g. during toolbox meetings) on the possible on-site hazards and the safety precautions to be taken when operating or working alongside excavators.
  • The operator should stop operating the excavator and report to the supervisor if the excavator is found to be working abnormally or if an operational fault has been detected.
  • Operators should be encouraged to report any signs of damaged components, safety features or other issues to their supervisors so that these could be addressed before an accident occurs.

Risk Assessment

Employers, principals and contractors are required to conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities when operating or working in the vicinity of excavators to manage any foreseeable risk that may arise. The RA should address, but not limited to, the following areas:

Field Breakdown and Vehicle Recovery 

  • A safe work procedure must be established and implemented for field recovery. Workers should never attempt the recovery task if they are not trained for it. Using an improvised tool or an improper method for recovery will only create new risks that could result in an accident.

Possibility of Being Struck by Moving Objects

  • Workers should stay clear of all hazardous zones of the excavator such as the articulated arm and bucket’s span and swing radius. Never stand near or beneath the arm of the excavator especially when there is a load.

Movement and Operation of Excavator

  • On-site supervisors should always ensure the safe movement and operation of excavators. Excavators that have signs of damage, faulty components or other problems should be taken out of service.

Further Information

  1. Workplace Safety and Health Act 
  2. Workplace Safety and Health (Construction) Regulations 2007
  3. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
  4. Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations
  5. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
  6. CP 79: 1999 Code of Practice for Safety Management System for Construction Worksites (Incorporating Amendment No. 1, June 2010)
  7. Construction Safety Handbook. Land Transport Authority, Singapore. 
  8. UK Health and Safety Executive’s The Safe Use of Vehicles on Construction Sites
  9. Code of Practice on Safe Use of Excavators. Occupational Safety and Health Branch, Labour Department, Hong Kong SAR. 
  10. WSH Council’s Toolbox Meeting Kit

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at 8 January 2020. This may be subject to change as investigations are still on-going. Please also note that the recommendations provided here are not exhaustive and they are meant to enhance workplace safety and health so that a recurrence may be prevented. The information and recommendations provided are not to be construed as implying any liability on any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations under the law.