Accident Advisory: Worker struck by rudder and fell

18 May 2020

Ref No.: 180520 (2)

UEN: S97SS0046G

Dear Valued ASPRI Members,

Accident Advisory: Worker struck by rudder and fell

Ref: 1920110 WSH Alert Accident Notification dated 16 March 2020

On 11 March 2020, a group of workers was installing a rudder at the rear of a marine vessel when the rudder swung and hit one of them. The worker fell to the ground and was pronounced dead at the scene by attending paramedics.


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

Regular equipment inspection and maintenance

  • All lifting equipment (including lifting machines, lifting appliances, hoists and lifting gears) used must be subjected to statutory regular inspections by an Authorised Examiner at least once every 12 months.
  • Place all lifting equipment on a preventive maintenance programme (in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations) to ensure that they remain in good condition and ready for use.
  • Any defects found during inspection or pre-use checks must be reported to the supervisor and properly documented, and the equipment should not be used until the defects are repaired/rectified in accordance to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Lifting plan and method of installation

  • Establish and implement a lifting and rigging plan before commencing the lifting operation. The lifting plan should take into consideration the following key elements (non-exhaustive):   
    • Details of load
    • Details of the lifting/rigging equipment or lifting gears used
    • Sketch of the lifting zone
    • Physical and environment conditions
    • Lifting sequence or special precautions
    • Personnel involved in the lifting/rigging operations
    • Means of communications
  • Ensure that a safe method for rudder installation has been determined prior to work commencement taking into account the on-site risks.
  • Document the installation method in the Safe Work Procedure (SWP) and deploy only competent workers who have been trained on the SWP.

Competent lifting crew

  • Ensure that lifting team members (lifting equipment operator, lifting supervisor, rigger, signalman) are competent and have successfully completed the relevant safety and health training (e.g. WSQ Supervise Safe Lifting Operations course for lifting supervisors) in relation to their assigned roles and responsibilities.

Safe lifting operation

  • Ensure that the selected lifting equipment has sufficient lifting capacity and reach to handle the intended load.
  • Ensure all lifting gears (e.g. slings, webbings, shackles, wire ropes and chains) are within the Safe Working Load of the lift, in good condition and meet the requirements stated in Regulation 20 of the WSH (General Provisions) Regulations.
  • Demarcate the lifting zone and ensure that no unauthorised persons enter the zone while the lifting operation is in progress.
  • Always maintain the load’s centre of gravity directly beneath the load line (i.e. directly beneath the hook). Otherwise, the load may swing when it is lifted.
  • Ensure that the load is secured, stable and balanced throughout the lifting operation.
  • Confirm that all members of the lifting team are in a safe position before starting the lifting operation.
  • Use tag lines to control the load while it is being manoeuvred.

Permit-to-work (PTW) for hazardous work at height situation

  • A PTW is mandatory for work at height situations where a person could fall from a height of more than 3 metres. Such a PTW must meet the requirements set out under the WSH (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013. The PTW ought to include the following information and checks (non-exhaustive) by the relevant competent persons to verify that conditions are safe before allowing the work to proceed:
    • Particulars of the personnel assigned to the work
    • Description and location of the equipment or installation
    • Description of the work to be carried out
    • Measures taken to ensure that the equipment or installation has been made safe
    • Fall prevention measures in place such as edge protection and the use of of a personal fall arrest system

Hazard awareness and risk communication

  • Prior to work commencement, workers must be briefed (e.g. during toolbox meetings) on the possible on-site hazards and the safety precautions to be taken when carrying out installation works and when working within a lifting zone
  • Work coordination with and between the contractors who are present at the same site is critical to ensure safe execution of the lifting operation
  • Workers should be encouraged to report any unsafe work conditions observed or near-miss incidents witnessed to their supervisor so that these may be addressed before an accident occurs.

Risk Assessment

Conduct a thorough Risk Assessment (RA) for all work activities to control any foreseeable risk that may arise during rudder installation works. The RA should cover, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Selection of suitable lifting equipment for the load to be lifted
  • Condition of the lifting equipment
  • Method of installation
  • Risks that can arise during installation
  • Risk of falling from heights

Further Information

  1. Workplace Safety and Health Act
  2. Workplace Safety and Health (Risk Management) Regulations
  3. Workplace Safety and Health (General Provisions) Regulations
  4. Workplace Safety and Health (Operation of Cranes) Regulations 2011
  5. Workplace Safety and Health (Work at Heights) Regulations 2013
  6. Code of Practice on Workplace Safety and Health Risk Management
  7. Code of Practice on Safe Lifting Operations in the Workplaces
  8. Code of Practice for Working Safely at Heights
  9. Singapore Standard SS 343: 2014 Specification for Lifting Gear – Part 1: Wire rope slings, Part 2: Hooks, Part 3: Shackles 
  10. WSH Guidelines on Anchorage, Lifelines and Temporary Edge Protection Systems
  11. WSH Guidelines on Personal Protective Equipment for Work at Heights
  12. WSH Guidelines on Contractor Management
  13. WSH Guidelines on Fatigue Management
  14. WSH Council’s Case Studies on Accidents Involving Work at Heights
  15. WSH Council’s Work at Heights Toolkit for Supervisors
  16. WSH Council’s Guidebook for Lifting Supervisors
  17. WSH Council’s Worker’s Safety Handbook for Lorry Crane Operator
  18. WSH Council’s Worker’s Safety Handbook for Rigger and Signalman
  19. WSH Council’s 6 Basic WSH Rules for Lifting Operations
  20. WSH Council’s 6 Basic WSH Rules for Work at Heights
  21. WSH Council’s Activity Based Checklist for Working Safely on Heights
  22. Ministry of Manpower Examination and Testing Requirements for Statutory Lifting Equipment

Information on the accident is based on preliminary investigations by the Ministry of Manpower as at 12 May 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 liability on any party nor should it be taken to encapsulate all the responsibilities and obligations under the law.