SINGAPORE - Following a spate of workplace accidents this month which saw seven people killed, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is adding 300 inspections in high-risk industries.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday (Feb 24), MOM said the inspections will continue until mid-March, adding that there will be "a greater focus on tackling the common infringements found of work-at-heights risk and safe use of machinery" in the construction, manufacturing and marine sectors.
The announcement came on the same day as an explosion at an industrial site in Tuas, which saw 10 workers taken to hospital for burn injuries.
Of the seven deaths from workplace accidents this month, three fell from height, three were caught between objects and one was involved in a work-related traffic accident.
MOM had, between mid-December last year and this month, launched Operation Robin with 400 inspections at various sites.
The team uncovered 486 contraventions and issued seven stop-work orders (SWO).
In one of these inspections, MOM issued a SWO to Kian Hua Hardware where contraventions, including ignition keys being left in forklifts and unsafe electrical installations, were uncovered.
Another SWO was issued to waste management and construction company Mass Engineering for practices including poorly maintained excavators and the unsafe stockpiling of debris.
MOM said top offences found during Operation Robin were unguarded openings and open sides that pose as fall risks as well as unsafe machinery practices.
In two of the fatal accidents this month, workers had operated a boom lift and a forklift, even though they were untrained and unauthorised.
"MOM takes such contraventions seriously and will not hesitate to take a tough enforcement stance against those who put workers at risk," it added.
The Singapore Contractors Association and Workplace Safety and Health Council had on Monday issued a call for a safety time-out on the use of machinery in the light of the recent incidents.
In a Facebook post the same day, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that 30 fatalities were recorded for the whole of last year and seven for this month alone.
"This is extremely alarming... these incidents could have been prevented with adequate risk assessment of the workplace, and proper safety procedures in place," he said.
SINGAPORE - An accident involving a lorry and a bus on the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) on Thursday morning (Feb 25) left 12 people injured and caused a major jam during the morning peak hour.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman told The Straits Times they received a call for assistance about the accident along the PIE towards Tuas at the Jalan Bahar exit at about 8am.
Twelve people were taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
A police spokesman said the 75-year-old male lorry driver and his 11 passengers, aged between 22 and 39, were conscious when taken to the hospital. Police investigations are ongoing.
The Land Transport Authority had warned motorists in a tweet about road congestion up to the Kranji Expressway.
At the hospital, a worker who was in the lorry told reporters he and his colleagues tumbled over one another after the collision.
He said they sustained minor cuts and scratches, and some had bruises and aches.
About nine workers were at the hospital's emergency ward, and all were mobile. One was in an arm sling.
They were wearing green uniforms bearing Kao Lee Aluminium Industrial's logo.
A staff from Kao Lee was checking on the workers' condition and later took those who had been discharged away. She declined to comment on the accident.
The bus driver had told reporters earlier his vehicle was carrying about 20 passengers, while the lorry was ferrying workers.
He said none of his passengers was hurt.
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SINGAPORE: A former insurance broker representative was handed four-year prohibition orders for dishonest conduct, after he sold insurance policies to three people despite not being authorised to do so.
The orders against Lau Man Chun took effect from Feb 22, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Wednesday (Feb 24).
For the duration of the order, he is prohibited from providing any financial advisory service, or taking part in the management of, acting as a director of, or becoming a substantial shareholder of any financial advisory firm.
He is also not allowed to carry on business as, or take part in the management of, any insurance intermediary.
Lau worked at insurance broker Financial Alliance, which distributes personal accident policies offered by Liberty Insurance on an exclusive basis, from November 2014 to March 2018, MAS said.
He joined Manulife Financial Advisers in April 2018, where he was authorised to only advise on and sell life policies. He subsequently left in July 2019.
However, Lau had met three people in December 2018 to sell them Liberty’s personal accident policies, despite not being authorised to advise on or sell general insurance policies.
“Mr Lau obtained their signatures on blank policy proposal forms and collected S$100 cash from each person, as payment for the policy premiums,” MAS said.
Additionally, he falsified policy schedules when clients sought an update on their policy status to “give them the wrong impression that their policies had already been effected by Liberty”.
“The impact of Mr Lau’s actions on these persons was significant as they would not have succeeded in making a claim if the need arose,” the authority said.
SINGAPORE - The last four members of a 12-person group who spent a day on Lazarus Island last year in breach of Covid-19 rules were fined $3,000 each on Wednesday (Feb 24).
British nationals Helen Ann Sullivan, 31; Joshua Adam Roth, 31; James Riby Oram Trimming, 31; and Edward John Joseph Lee-Bull, 33, pleaded guilty to a charge of meeting others for a non-permitted purpose and without reasonable excuse under the Covid-19 regulations.
The other eight people were earlier fined $3,000 each. They are William Edwin Dunford, 32; Richard Henri Lagesse, 31; Lowri Mair Jeffs, 31; Zoe Louise Cronk, 30; Jeff Richard Alexander, 32; Luong Thi Thu Ha, 31; Natalie Joanna Sarkies, 29 and Paul Jonathon Gold, 32.
All of them are British except for Sarkies, who is Singaporean, and Ha, who is Vietnamese.
Their trip took place during phase two of Singapore's reopening, when only groups of up to five people were allowed to meet outside their homes for social purposes.
The court heard that at about 11am on Aug 8 last year, the group took a ferry to St John's Island, before walking to the beach at Lazarus Island. They spent the day there before taking a ferry back to mainland Singapore at about 6pm.
Lazarus Island is located south of the Singapore mainland and a man-made causeway connects it to St John's Island.
Sarkies posted photos of the trip on Instagram and the trip was reported on various media platforms.
Sullivan, Roth and Lee-Bull were represented by lawyer Shafiuddin Ong who originally represented Trimming as well, but he was discharged.
Trimming represented himself and expressed remorse for his actions.
Mr Ong said his clients were sorry for their actions and "with the benefit of hindsight, realise the severity of their actions".
He asked that the fines be reduced from the sentences in cases cited by prosecution which occurred during the circuit breaker period, since the gathering happened during phase two of Singapore's reopening.
However, deputy public prosecutor Timotheus Koh reiterated that there should be no difference in the sentencing of offences committed during and after the circuit breaker as the regulations still serve the common purpose of "guard(ing) against outbreak of Covid-19".
District Judge Ong Luan Tze agreed with the prosecution and added that it was "fair and appropriate" for the four accused to receive the same sentence as the previous eight.
For breaching a Covid-19 regulation, they could have been jailed for up to six months, fined up to $10,000 or both.
SINGAPORE - A 40-year-old man who was to face charges over allegations that he had laundered more than $10 million in a Covid-19 scam had his case postponed after coming down with a fever.
Defence lawyer Thong Chee Kun on Wednesday (Feb 24) told the court that his client, Thye Wee Boon, has to take a swab test.
His case has been adjourned to March 3.
Thye was to have faced 19 charges for offences including dealing with the benefits of criminal activities.
To date, the authorities have managed to recover more than $6.4 million of the amount taken in the ruse - the largest single recovery since the formation of the Singapore Police Force's (SPF) anti-scam centre, which was set up in June 2019.
Police were alerted in March last year that a French pharmaceutical company had been scammed of €6.636 million (S$10.64 million).
According to the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol, a suspect had taken the identity of a legitimate company and advertised the fast delivery of surgical masks and hand sanitisers.
"Once the pharmaceutical company transferred the funds to a bank in Singapore, the items were never delivered and the supplier became uncontactable," said the agency in a statement.
It added that the EU authorities informed their Singaporean counterparts and asked them to act swiftly.
"Having previously received a Suspicious Transaction Report from the recipient bank, Singaporean authorities were quick to act and were able to block part of the payment and to identify the man who had received the funds and subsequently arrested him on March 25 (2020)," said Europol.
SPF said Thye's identity was established by the Commercial Affairs Department and he was arrested on his return to Singapore from overseas on March 25 last year.
Preliminary investigations revealed that he had allegedly acquired the criminal proceeds and removed part of them out of Singapore.
A police spokesman added: "Through quick intervention and close collaboration with seven banks, namely UOB, OCBC, DBS, SCB, CIMB, Maybank and HSBC, the police's anti-scam centre managed to recover more than $6.4 million of the amount scammed.
"This is the biggest single recovery since the formation of the centre. Efforts are under way to trace and recover the remaining monies."
For unlawfully dealing with the benefits of ill-gotten gains, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.
SINGAPORE - A clerk spoke on Monday (Feb 22) of the horrifying moment she looked out of her window and saw a woman being bitten by a wild boar - one of two attacks on the same night.
Ms Tan, who wished to be known only by her surname, was watching television alone at home in her flat on Saturday night when she heard what she thought was a lovers' quarrel coming from the road below.
But when she heard a woman screaming in pain and calling for help she knew something was amiss.
The 308B Punggol Walk resident, 45, looked out to see the woman being bitten on the leg. It was one of two boar attacks in the area that night, believed to have been by the same animal.
Speaking to reporters about the ordeal from her flat yesterday, Ms Tan said: "I heard the lady scream 'Someone please help me!' then I realised something was wrong."
She added: "I didn't think a wild boar would attack someone so close to the block," and pointed to the spot between Block 308B, a church and a primary school.
She called the police and managed to chase the boar away with the help of a neighbour who used Ms Tan's umbrella to fend it off and a delivery rider who rang his bicycle bell repeatedly to scare it.
Just 20 minutes after the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the attack it received another call about an attack at Block 310A at about 9.30pm. Two people were taken to Sengkang General Hospital by the SCDF.
The boar has not been found, despite a 20-man effort to track it down over the weekend using profile descriptions which indicate it is a lone female that weighs about 40 to 50kg.
Mr How Choon Beng, director of wildlife management and outreach at the National Parks Board (NParks), said in response to queries from reporters: "NParks will continue patrolling the area and have put up advisories on what the public should do if they encounter wild boars."
He added since wild boar tend to stray into publicly accessible areas to look for human food sources, and can be a threat to public safety, they will be trapped and removed.
Dr Andie Ang, a research scientist with Mandai Nature who conducts surveys in forests here, said this behaviour by the animals was not natural and could be a result of people feeding them. "When people feed the wild pigs, (they) will be attracted to come out of the forests into urban areas," said Dr Ang who is also the president of the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore). She added that boar may also be encroaching on urban space due to the loss of their habitat.
Most residents who spoke to reporters were shocked about the attacks but agreed that it was common to encounter wildlife in the Punggol Walk area. Many residents said they frequently come across monkeys, monitor lizards and stray dogs.
But the latest attacks have left some fearful.
A resident who wanted to be known only as Ms Chew, 38, who works in insurance and is five months pregnant, is now more cautious when she walks back alone in the mornings after taking her children to school.
The mother of three youngsters aged five to 10 said: "Previously when we walked out I'll be playing on my phone, but now my eyes are constantly looking around to make sure there's nothing around me."
More incidents in the last two months than whole of 2020
The latest attacks bring the number of wild boar incidents involving humans to four so far this year - up from three in the whole of 2020.
Among the steps taken by the NParks to manage this conflict are engagement programmes to educate the public not to feed wildlife.
Mr How Choon Beng, director of wildlife management and outreach at the National Parks Board, said: "Intentional feeding or irresponsible discarding of food alters the natural foraging behaviour of wildlife and habituates them to human presence and relying on humans for an easy source of food. This results in wildlife having an increased propensity to approach humans for food and may lead to them venturing into urban areas in search of human sources of food."
NParks also reminded the public that if they encounter a wild boar, they should remain calm and move slowly away from it. They should keep a safe distance and not corner or provoke the animal.
Wild boar with piglets are potentially more dangerous because they may attempt to defend their young and should be left alone. Members of the public may call the Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600 to report any wild boar encounters.
SINGAPORE: Amir* was trying to stop a patient from leaving his ward when a punch landed on his left cheek so hard that his nose started bleeding.
"I was shocked," said Amir, a health attendant at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) who said he had not experienced anything like this in his 15 years on the job.
Describing the incident in January, Sheila*, a nurse who helped Amir with the patient, said the man got agitated when there was a delay in the discharge process and he tried to leave without his medication.
Healthcare workers were aware that the patient had mental health issues when he was admitted for an acute medical condition.
"After he punched him, he (the patient) was also stunned," Sheila said. "He just stare(d) ... and kept quiet, doing nothing. He did not continue to be aggressive or violent.”
The hospital's security officers were called in.
As for Amir, he went to the accident and emergency department where an X-ray and scan showed that he was fine. He told reporters in a phone interview that he has since put the incident behind him.
With patients who have a known history of mental health issues, Sheila said she and her colleagues will be more careful not to trigger them. And while she has never been physically assaulted, she said such incidents are "quite common".
"Physical abuse happens because patients are not in the right state of mind," she said.
UPWARD TREND IN CASES
Such incidents are not unheard of among public healthcare workers.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in a written reply to a parliamentary question earlier this month that based on data from public healthcare institutions, the number of abuse and harassment cases increased from 1,080 in 2018 to 1,300 last year.
Over the same period, the number of such cases involving on-duty public healthcare workers that were reported to the police under the Protection of Harassment Act increased from 40 to 58.
In line with the numbers, SGH has seen an increase in the number of abuse cases faced by frontline employees, said the hospital's chief communications officer Jennifer Wee. In SGH alone, there were nearly 200 cases last year, almost three times the number in 2016.
Common reasons behind intentional abuse and harassment are unreasonable demand for extra services such as requests for staff members to purchase carbonated drinks or give preferential treatment, Ms Wee said, noting that there are also cases of unexplained aggression where there was no obvious provocation.
Ms Wee said that some forms of such abuse and harassment include shouting and threatening, and physical abuse like pushing and hitting. Victims are typically frontline staff like doctors, nurses, as well as healthcare assistants and attendants, especially those involved in direct patient care, she said.
SGH said that when its employees find themselves in an abusive situation, they will seek immediate assistance first from colleagues nearby.
“The supervisor is then informed and if it is safe to do so, the supervisor would approach and talk to the angry patient or next-of-kin. In the event that they cannot be calmed or reasoned with, and staff safety is at risk, our security will be alerted,” said Ms Wee.
“In most cases, our security officer or team will assess the situation first. In cases where the abuser cannot be calmed or reasoned with, or when staff and patients’ safety is at risk, we will call for police intervention.”
ABUSE BY OLDER PATIENTS WITH DEMENTIA, BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS
At Alexandra Hospital (AH), physical assault cases are common when it comes to older patients with dementia and behavioural problems, said senior nurse clinician Pauline Chong.
“These groups of patients may have impaired thought processes whereby they are unable to express their needs or discomfort. They tend to get frustrated and physical aggression may set in when their basic or emotional needs are unmet,” she said.
These needs include thirst, hunger and toileting. They are unable to respond well to unfamiliar people in a new environment as they lack a sense of security, she noted.
Nurses are also verbally abused by patients who refuse to cooperate and insist on going out of their wards to smoke despite being at risk of a fall, she added.
“In the course of our work, sometimes, we may come across patients who exhibit aggression or depression-triggered emotions. We have come across extreme cases who abuse our nurses verbally or throw them a punch or spit at them,” she said.
“Nurses under such circumstances may feel discouraged and down when they encounter such patients,” she added, noting that it is important during induction and refresher training to educate nurses on psychology and human behaviours.
Ms Chong said that AH makes the distinction between patients who are angry, aggressive and depressed and those who are mentally ill, under stress or experiencing anxiety.
“These patients who live alone, have no next-of-kin support, and often, elderly with dementia, face entrenched social complexities which go beyond medical issues," Ms Chong said.
"We may refer one to a clinical psychologist of the care team of the hospital, and if psychotherapy and medication do not work, our care manager will try to find the source of the patient’s behaviour triggers before they are escalated."
It is not just the patients that nurses have to deal with. Visitors have also responded to restrictions on visitation with threats, Ms Chong said.
She added that sometimes, abuse may also come from next-of-kin.
“They may put forth unreasonable demands, pass sarcastic remarks, issue threats or talk down to nurses,” Ms Chong said.
The Health Minister said in his parliamentary reply that frontline healthcare staff are trained to assess and de-escalate potential conflicts in the first instance and manage abusive situations.
There are also measures in place to support those affected.
"This includes helplines for affected staff, anonymised counselling support services on and off campus by institutions and community providers, and peer support programmes for staff," Mr Gan said.
"Members of the public are reminded through prominently displayed signages to treat our staff with respect and dignity, and that any form of verbal or physical abuse of our staff will not be tolerated."
SINGAPORE - Three former Shell Eastern Petroleum employees linked to a $200 million gas oil heist have been charged with bribing employees of surveying companies who inspected vessels which the oil giant supplied fuel to.
Juandi Pungo, 44, Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, 40, and Richard Goh Chee Keong, 51, appeared before a district court on Tuesday (Feb 23) to have their charges read out to them.
All three had previously been charged with criminal breach of trust over their alleged involvement in a conspiracy that led to more than 300,000 tonnes of gas oil worth about US$150 million (S$200 million) being stolen from Shell's biggest global refinery.
Juandi and Muzaffar Ali Khan face 13 charges each while Goh faces four charges, all for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
Between 2014 and 2017, Juandi and Muzaffar Ali Khan allegedly conspired to give bribes totalling about US$91,900 to 10 employees of surveying companies to inaccurately report the amount of gas oil loaded onto vessels which the employees were engaged to inspect.
Between 2016 and 2017, Goh is accused of bribing three employees of surveying companies with a total of US$25,000 for the same reason.
The three will be in court next on March 19.
If convicted of graft, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000 for each charge.
First exclusive cooking show by K-ART featuring Mrs Singapore Asia Intl Tourism and Miss Singapore Chinatown
Today is the first time K-ART is doing a live cooking show in Facebook! K-ART is proud to invite 2 beauty queens to their Facebook live for the first time. They are Ms Diana Ong, Mrs Singapore Asia Intl Tourism 2016 and Ms Crystal Huang, Miss Singapore Chinatown 2019. They will be doing live cooking in the Facebook live and they will be preparing 2 delicious dishes to share with the Facebook viewers during this Chinese New Year period.
They will also be promoting 2 of K-ART bundle in the Facebook live. Bundle Set 1 includes K-ART Iron Frying Pan and K-ART Frying Pan Ladle. Bundle Set 2 includes K-ART Maifan Stone Soup Pot and K-ART Soup Ladle. Both bundles have great offer at the Facebook live today. Usual price for Bundle Set 1 is $89.80, but for tonight we are selling at $59.90. And for Bundle Set 2 the usual price is $113.90, but for tonight we are selling at $59.90. Do not miss this great deals tonight at K-ART Facebook Page from 8pm to 9pm!
K-ART Iron Frying Pan
K-ART Maifan Stone Soup Pot
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