Hao Wei (S) Pte Ltd v Rasan Selvan

JudgeTan Lee Meng J
Judgment Date05 September 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] SGHC 148
Docket NumberDistrict Court Appeal No 25 of 2007
Date05 September 2008
Published date05 September 2008
Plaintiff CounselMichael Eu (United Legal Alliance LLC)
Citation[2008] SGHC 148
Defendant CounselKamala Devi (Yeo Perumal Mohideen Law Corporation)
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
Subject MatterNegligence,Duty of care,Duties of employers who deploy workers at various work sites to undertake variety of tasks,Employment Law,Employees’ duties,Employer deploying worker at various work sites to undertake variety of tasks,Whether employer breached duty to take reasonable care to provide safe system of work and effective supervision,Safety at work,Tort,Whether subcontractor liable for injuries suffered by worker,Whether employer's obligation to take reasonable care to provide safe system of work delegable

5 September 2008

Tan Lee Meng J:

1 The appellant, Hao Wei (S) Pte Ltd (“Hao Wei”), a building contractor, appealed against the decision of the District Judge Wong Choon Ning (“DJ Wong”), who found it liable to its employee, the respondent, Mr Rasan Selvan (“Rasan”), for an injury suffered in the course of his employment. I dismissed the appeal and now give the reasons for my decision.


2 Rasan, an Indian national with a work permit, first came to Singapore in September 1998 to work for Hao Wei as a construction worker. He was deployed to work at various locations.

3 On 21 June 2001, Hao Wei deployed Rasan to work in a factory at 15 Sungei Kadut Street 2 (the “factory”). At the material time, Hao Wei was the sub-contractor of the first defendant (in the suit below), TSS Construction Pte Ltd (“TSSC”), whose task was to carry out reinforcement works to pre-cast elements at the factory (the “project”).

4 On the morning of 21 June 2001, Ms Sufiah Ng (“Sufiah”), a director of Hao Wei, accompanied Rasan to the place within the factory where bars required for the project were bent by a bar bending machine. Rasan was introduced to a foreman, one Mr Pang. He was ordered to follow Mr Pang’s instructions and the work schedule in the factory.

5 Mr Pang, who did not explain to Rasan how the machine was to be operated, told Rasan to obey the instructions of a Bangladeshi worker named “Sidik”.

6 Sidik told Rasan to hold the bars that had been placed in the machine and to insert a stopper or pin into the bar bending machine before the bars were bent in order to prevent the machine from going beyond a specified point, which indicated how far the bars were to be bent. Once the stopper was inserted, Sidik activated the machine by stepping on a foot pedal. On the basis of these simple instructions, Rasan started work immediately.

7 Rasan’s work was not easy. A stack of bars had to be placed, one on top of the other in the machine. Their lengths had to be adjusted to be in line with one another so that all of them would be bent equally to the requisite shape or angle. During the bending process, Rasan had to hold the bars in position until the bending process had been finished to ensure that the bars at the top of the stack did not slip down.

8 On 26 June 2001, at around 9.45 am, Rasan removed a stack of bent bars from the machine. When he returned to the machine, he noticed that Sidik had already placed a new stack of bars into the machine and that these bars were being bent by the machine without the stopper having been put in place. Furthermore, no one was holding the bars in position. Rasan quickly grabbed the stopper to insert it into the machine but before he could do so, the bars that were then being bent hit him on his right hip and groin. He lost his balance and fell onto the machine, after which a part of the machine that was returning to its original position, after having bent the bars, hit him on the head, face and neck. He was severely injured and became unconscious. Subsequently, he was diagnosed as suffering from post concussion syndrome.

9 Rasan applied for compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act (Cap 354, 1998 Rev Ed) (now known as the Work Injury Compensation Act). However, he withdrew the application. On 28 October 2003, he commenced the present proceedings against the main contractor, TSSC, which denied that it had any direct control or supervision over the manner in which the bending of bars was carried out at the factory site. Subsequently, on 4 June 2004, Rasan added Hao Wei as the second defendant in his suit.

10 TSSC did not appear at the trial on 10 January 2007 and interlocutory judgment was entered against it with...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT