Singapore-based integrated waste management company NSL OilChem Services (NSL) and its general manager have been fined for failing to provide a safe workplace, which led to a fatality.
On 3 May 2007 at a crude oil extraction plant in Tanjong Kling Road, a worker was caught in a flash fire while walking out of the pump house, which was situated beside the tank farm area.
The flash fire was caused when escaped flammable vapour from two storage tanks reached an oil lamp with a naked light on an altar near the tank farm area.
The flammable vapour had built up within the tank farm area because the surrounding metal hoarding, trees and fencing had acted as barriers to the dissipation of the flammable vapour by the wind.
The worker suffered 70% second-degree burns and died five days later. NSL was fined $80,000 (45,278) and its general manager, Ong Beng Tit, was fined $15,000.
Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) showed that NSL had failed to take reasonably practicable measures to ensure that the workplace was safe and without risks.
The flash point stated in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of recovered fuel oil was inconsistent with the actual properties of the contents in the two storage tanks.
The design and layout of the tanks and farm area were inadequate to allow for the safe venting of the flammable vapour. A damaged hole on the roof top of one of the storage tanks had allowed more flammable vapour to escape from the tank to the surrounding environment. An oil lamp with a naked light on an altar was found near the tank farm area.
The flash fire could have been prevented if the company had taken the necessary safety measures, such as ensuring that there was no naked flame near the tank farm or repairing the hole on the rooftop of the tank, MOM's director of Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate Silas Sng says.