Workmen’s Compensation & Employers’ Liability

Twenty trapped following gas explosion at coal mine


China: In June 2007, a gas explosion at a northern China coal mine killed nine miners and left 20 people trapped who were trying to clean up the pit, which was flooded after the explosion. The accident was covered up by mine management, but became public after the victims’ families filed a complaint with the local government. Police arrested seven people in connection with the accident.


Mines in China seem to be the most dangerous in the world with an average of 13 miners killed every day in accidents.


Source: Associated Press, 14 July 2007

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


Alurninium spill in Shandong kills 14, injures 59


China: Molten aluminium at a temperature of about 900 degrees Celsius spilled out of its container in an explosion-like airflow causing a serious accident at an aluminium plant in Zouping. The roof of the workshop was blown off, killing 14 workers, and injuring 59. The accident is being investigated by the local authorities.


Source BBC Monitoring Asio Pacific, 20 August 2007

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


Some progress in improving industrial safety


China: Since the enforcement of the Safety Production Law in 2003, workplace accidents have been reduced by 1.7% (2003), 11.2% (2006) and 14% in the first ten months of 2007 (corresponding to 79,000 fatal accidents). Over the same period, the death toll from road accidents fell from 13.7 per 10.000 vehicles to 6.2. Fatalities in coal mines fell from 4.94 per million tons of coal mined in 2002 to 2.04 in 2006.


Source: Insurance Journal, 6 November 2007

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


Fund must pay out for worker’s death: court. ruling denying cash for family overturned


China: Illegal workers are entitled to compensation from the Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board – a fund that covers compensation in cases in which the employer does not have the means to do so.


Lian Yikai who had no working permit for Hong Kong was killed in 2003 when he was jammed between the cabin of the forklift truck he was driving and the forklift. The court of first instance sentenced his employer to six months in jail for hiring illegal workers, but denied Liang compensation as paying claims to illegal workers would deprive the fund of too much money. The Court of Appeal rejected this argument and awarded HKD303,000 (USD38,845) to his family. The Employees Compensation Assistance Board has indicated it will appeal this decision in the Court of Final Appeal.


Source: South Chino Morning Post, 76 November 2007

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


Molten steel kills 32 in workshop accident


China: Thirty-two workers were killed and six injured when white-hot, molten steel spilled from a 30-tonne capacity ladle and flooded a workshop at a steelworks. Operations at the plant have been suspended until investigations into the cause of the accident have been undertaken. According to a government official, the families of the victims will receive long-term financial help, and every family has been offered CNY10,00b (USD1,280) in initial compensation.


The mainland is notorious for its poor work safety record. According to statistics, 109,143 people were killed in workplace accidents in 2006, an average of 300 people a day


Source: South China Morning Post, 19 April 2007

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


Forklift death: Victims family awarded SGD78,000 (USD56,529)


Singapore: In a second case in one month where a court overruled a decision of the Labour Commissioner to reject a compensation claim, a judge awarded SGD78,000 (USD56,529) to the widow and children of a worker who drowned when his forklift fell into the sea.


The 35-year-old victim was driving a forklift, when it” reversed and fell into the water at a shipping terminaI in December 2005. His body was not found until hourS~ later. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) ordered the owner of the forklift to pay SGD78,624 (USD56,982) in compensation to the family of the deceased. The company appealed, contending that Mr. Ramu was not their employee, as he was hired by their foreman, who was not authorised to hire people. The company further asserted that the foreman had paid Mr. Ramu out of his own pocket and that he was not asked to use the forklift on that very day. The Labour Commissioner agreed with the company and rejected the claim.


The widow’s appeal to the High Court was successful: Justice Choo stated that although the foreman was not authorised to hire people he led Mr. Ramu to believe he was. Moreover, it could not be established that Ramu knew that the foreman used his own money to pay him, and some evidence indicated that the forklift was required on the day of the accident.


Source: Straits Times, 31 March 2008

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


MOM ordered to process clairn


Singapore: Pang Cheng Suan, a signboard maker, will finally be compensated for the injuries he suffered in 2004 due to an explosion at his workplace. He underwent multiple operations which cost him more than SGD20,000 (USD14,495) in medical bills and loss of income.


At the onset of the case, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) ruled that he had filed his claim too late; this decision was confirmed by the High Court. Pang claimed compensation with the MOM soon after the accident, then withdrew the claim deciding instead to sue his employer. He then proceeded to change his mind again, when investigations into the accident revealed that the blast was not the result of negligence. Pang again turned to the MOM for workmen’s compensation in April 2006, but the relevant law provides that compensation claims older than a year would only be considered, if the claimant establishes a reasonable cause for the delay. The Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal justified his decision in favour of the claimant with the fact that Pang had made his first claim in 2004 and by this notified the authorities of his intention to claim compensation.


Source: Straits Times, 12 March 2008

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re


Job injury claims for office staff set to rise


Singapore: In 2006, in approximately 750 claims with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) – about 5% of all claims – were filed by white-collar workers who earned SGD1,600 (USD1,160) or less a month. This number might rise considerably with the enforcement of a new April 2008 law covering all non-manual workers regardless of income. The new law will replace the Workmen’s Compensation Act which protects all manual and non­ manual workers earning no more than SGD1,600 (USD1,160) a month. Under the new law employers are not obligated to buy insurance, but >they have to compensate staff injured in workplace accidents, even if they have no insurance. Companies are verifying, if they should buy insurance and at what price insurance is available. Due to this insurers expect that premiums will go up.


In addition to the inclusion of white-collar workers earning more than SGD1,600 (USD1,160) a month, employees will also be able to make claims for noise­induced deafness, repetitive strain injuries and poisoning by chemicals such as arsenic.


Source: Straits Times, 28 February 2008

Asian Casualty Report 10th Edition June 2008 – Gen Re

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