Three killed in fire protection systems plant blaze

THREE workers have died and five remain in critical condition after the explosion in Tuas.

Two other workers, who were in the unit across from the accident site at 32E Tuas Avenue 11, have been discharged.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) provided the updates at the site of the incident yesterday.

The explosion had occurred on the premises of Stars Ergng, a contractor dealing with fire protection systems. It forced the evacuation of 65 others in the vicinity of the blaze, and these workers – some of whom lived in the dormitories at the site – have been rehoused.

MOM said the three dead workers have not been identified, given the extensive burns they suffered.

Authorities will inform their families once identities are confirmed.

MOM’s investigations found the explosion was caused by the accumulation of potato starch in a confined environment.

Contact with a source of ignition can cause what is called a combustible dust explosion.

Silas Sng, commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, said MOM had issued guidance material after a similar explosion years earlier.

He added: “It is a known fact that materials in powder form can be explosive when it is dispersed in the air in an enclosed environment.

“Potato starch is one of the materials that this particular company used for its product. Over time, the dust can accumulate.”

He called on other companies dealing with similar materials to review their safety measures.

“We must do all we can to prevent loss of life, ” said Sng, who is also MOM’s divisional director of occupational safety and health. — The Straits Times/ANN

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