Published February 7, 2007

MOM slaps labour freeze on builder Greatearth

Safety violations lead to curbs on foreign workers


THE Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has frozen the man-year entitlement (MYE) for two Greatearth Construction sites after repeated safety violations.

The freeze, effective from September last year, means Greatearth and its sub-contractors at the sites - Oxley Rise and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 - cannot employ new workers from non-traditional source (NTS) countries.

Nor can they renew the permits of existing NTS workers.

The freeze at the Oxley Road site lasts until March this year, while that at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 lasts until September.

NTS countries are Thailand, the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Greatearth's other projects are not affected.

MOM sent Greatearth a warning letter in December 2005 after finding safety infringements at its sites.

MOM officials also met Greatearth's management to discuss improvements.

Six months later, MOM checks showed limited improvements.

In June 2006 a partial stopwork order was issued for the Oxley Rise site.

This was later lifted. But after an investigation in July that followed an accident, a full stopwork order and seven fines were imposed.

Inspection of the Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 site in July 2006 led to a full stopwork order and 12 fines for multiple unsafe conditions.

Work resumed at both sites in August last year.

David Lim - a spokesman for Greatearth's parent United Engineers - said yesterday: 'At this point we expect no delay in the project completion at the two sites.'

Greatearth had since submitted an action plan to MOM, he said.

MOM said in a statement released yesterday: 'Greatearth has agreed to take action to improve its work safety and health standards.

'Its subsequent actions will determine the company's access to foreign employees for the rest of its 16 sites.'

A ministry spokesman said this is not the first time a company has had its MYE frozen for safety violations.

Greatearth was a partner in Greatearth-United Engineers Joint Venture, which was fined $160,000 in August last year after an accident at the Fusionpolis site in 2004 killed two people and injured 29.

The three defendants in a related case were acquitted on Friday last week.