MAID NOTICED LACK OF SAFETY GEAR
Around 4.10pm, the other man heard a loud bang. He then saw Hla Thein Aung lying motionless at the basement level.
A domestic worker who lived in the opposite block also told the authorities that she had noticed Hla Thein Aung was not wearing a helmet and was not connected to any safety line, while his co-worker had put on safety equipment.
She further recalled that Hla Thein Aung was scratching his back while painting.
When she heard a bang, she noticed the co-worker attempting to check on Hla Thein Aung but his movement was restricted by the safety line.
The co-worker managed to get to Hla Thein Aung shortly after. He shouted over the phone in Burmese to his supervisor that Hla Thein Aung was lying on the ground and his head was already broken, according to the maid.
He was not wearing his gloves and helmet, which the police later found on the fourth-floor parapet. His shoes and safety line were found on the first-floor staircase landing.
He was wearing a safety harness but it was loose.
The MOM investigation officer told the court that investigations could not ascertain why he removed his shoes, but he likely did not want to leave marks on the parapet walls.
NO FOUL PLAY: POLICE
Following the accident, a toxicology report found substances including nitrazepam – a type of sedative drug that can be used to treat insomnia – in his urine and blood.
The combination of substances had the potential for increased effects of sedation, as well as impairment of motor skills and balance, according to an investigation report that was read out in court.
Hla Thein Aung had also visited a clinic six days before the accident and was prescribed paracetamol.
His supervisor told the authorities that he tended to take medical leave on Mondays and Tuesdays. When the supervisor asked him about this, he insisted he was not feeling well on those days and had no other issues.
The supervisor also indicated that Hla Thein Aung drank alcohol often but he did not see this happening during working hours.
The police concluded that they did not suspect foul play.
After the incident, MOM issued a stop-work order to ISOTeam C&P. The company was also barred from employing new foreign workers for three months due to its poor risk controls.
MOM’s investigation officer, Mr Mohd Hafidz, told the court on Tuesday that the stop-work order was lifted after ISOTeam C&P revised its safety system to maintain “100 per cent tie-off”, which means that a worker must be secured to a fall protection system at any one point in time while working at elevated heights.
Rope access technicians will now perform jobs in areas that are not reachable by the gondola. Workers can stand on ledges to paint but only via rope access as well, Mr Hafidz said.
In his findings, Mr Hafidz cautioned that workers who stand on the ledge are at risk of falling off. While climbing off the parapet wall, they would not be able to hook up to a lifeline either, which violates the need to maintain 100 per cent tie-off.
When State Coroner Nakhoda asked if there should have been more constant supervision, Mr Hafidz said that the supervisor was meant to conduct a roving inspection of all the blocks two times that day.
He did the inspections in the morning, but did not have the chance to conduct an afternoon inspection before the incident happened.
Hla Thein Aung’s death was the first of 14 workplace deaths reported in the first half of 2023 – down from 18 deaths in the second half of 2022, and 28 deaths in the first half of 2022.
However, the number of major injuries reported in the manufacturing and construction sectors increased in the first half of 2023.