A foreign worker who had just arrived to work in Singapore for a week had two of his fingers sliced off, in a work site accident wholly attributable to the negligence of his employer. In a compensation claim against his employer Zhong Jiang (S) International, the worker was awarded $92,000, equivalent to 10 years’ worth of wages for him based on his monthly salary of $750.

Mr Cai Xiao Gen (“Mr Cai”) is a 32 year-old Chinese national from Jiangsu province, China. He had arrived in Singapore a week before to work as a carpenter with his employer, a construction firm, when the incident happened. He was on a two-year work permit. Mr Cai’s firm had given him a circular saw meant for cutting tiles, but he had been cutting plywood.

The circular saw was a dangerous tool that should not have been used to cut wood. In addition, no safety googles had been issued to Mr Cai, and the accident had occurred when some wood particles flew into his eyes. The middle and ring fingers of his left hand were sliced off, and later reattached. However, he still has difficulty doing ordinary tasks like buttoning his shirt. Even now, almost a year after the accident, Mr Cai still feels pain and would resort to gripping his left hand with his right in order to lessen the spasms of pain. Crucially, he cannot work as a carpenter anymore. Mr Cai had been working as a carpenter since he was 17 years old, for over fifteen years.

In a written judgment by District Judge Foo Tuat Yien after a three-day trial last month, the Court found that there had been no contributory negligence on the part of Mr Cai. Mr Cai was represented by Miss Lin Shiu Yi from HOH Law Corporation.

Reported by: Lee Tee Jong

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