Report: Falling Rudder Killed Worker at Keppel Shipyard

The accident occurred during work on the container feeder City of Shanghai (File image courtesy Reederei M. Lauterjung Shipping Group)

Published Mar 22, 2021 10:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Singapore coroner's office has concluded its investigation into the death of a worker at Keppel Offshore & Marine who was killed by a falling rudder last year.

Mandeep Kumar, 36, was working on the container ship City of Shanghai at Keppel's drydocks on March 11, 2020. He was standing on the vessel's rudder, and it shifted and pushed him off balance. According to the coroner's report, Kumar hung on to part of the ship about seven meters above the ground. The rudder swung and struck him, cutting off his right arm and sending him falling onto the surface below. He went into cardiac arrest and died at the scene. Investigators determined that the rudder assembly weighed 59 tonnes and had been suspended by a shackle rated for just 35 tonnes. The shackle failed when overloaded, sending the rudder swinging. The foreman allegedly failed to account for the entirety of the load and believed that it only weighed 32 tonnes. 

Singapore State Coroner Marvin Bay categorized the fatality as an "industrial misadventure" and an example of the need to manage risk. He called for employers like Keppel to carry out "appropriate risk assessments and [verify] the safety and fitness for use of all equipment," and to avoid circumstances where employees would be "vulnerable to injury in the event of any machinery or component failure."

Additionally, Keppel told The Straits Times that Kumar should have been working from scaffolding or a manbasket, and should not have been standing on the rudder. 

Keppel Offshore & Marine is currently undergoing a restructuring, exiting the offshore rig business altogether and downsizing its workforce. After a bruising year in 2020, the company will be "much slimmer than the Keppel O&M of today, with a significantly reduced head count, focusing on higher-value-adding work as a developer and integrator," said Keppel CEO Loh Chin Hua in a February earnings call.