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Fines issued for negligence resulting in tragedy, casuing a death of a wheelbound chair elderly

Two staff from Active Global were, fined for negligence in failing to ensure the engagement of the brakes on the wheelchair of 76-year-old Hassan Mohamed Karchi Arsan Osman, leading to his demise.

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SINGAPORE: Moe Thadar, a 49-year-old healthcare assistant from Myanmar, and Kwa Kim Seng, a 67-year-old driver affiliated with Active Global Home & Community Care (Singapore) located in Ghim Moh Link, were individually fined S$10,000 (US$7,500) for their negligent actions resulting in the death of a wheelchair user.

Active Global Home and Community Care in Singapore provides a range of eldercare services, including senior care centers. The company’s staff transport clients to these centers in the morning, organize meals and activities, and then return them home in the evening.

On 7 December, Moe and Kwa admitted guilt to a charge of a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, which caused the death of the victim.

They were alleged to have failed to ensure the engagement of the brakes on the wheelchair of 76-year-old Hassan Mohamed Karchi Arsan Osman, leading to his demise.

Around 4:40 pm on 3 February 2021, the duo was loading elderly clients into a van at the senior care centre’s pick-up point near Block 31A, Ghim Moh Link, to transport them home. The victim was the second to be loaded into the van.

Moe positioned Mr Hassan on the lift platform used for wheelchair-bound patients. As per Active Global’s standard operating procedures, the healthcare assistant (Moe) should secure the wheelchair’s wheels before activating the lift, and the driver (Kwa) should ensure the client’s safety during the lift.

Moe failed to engage Mr Hassan’s wheelchair brakes before walking away, contrary to the SOP.

She signaled Kwa with “Uncle, hold,” indicating readiness for the lift and that the victim was prepared to be lifted, and that Kwa should grab the wheelchair.

Kwa, who was engaged in conversation with a colleague during the incident, failed to secure the wheelchair brakes and loosely gripped it while raising the platform.

Facing away, he released the wheelchair before the healthcare assistant inside the van could take control.

The wheelchair rolled backward, causing Mr Hassan to fall, resulting in a head injury. Unconscious and bleeding, he was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead that day, with a head injury as the cause of death.

Despite relative good health, the head injury proved fatal, as noted by the prosecutor.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeremy Bin disclosed that investigations revealed that Active Global staff routinely deviated from the SOP. While the lift was equipped with a roll-stop to prevent wheelchair rollback, it was non-functional during the incident, and Active Global didn’t mandate its use in its SOP.

The SOP also outlined an incorrect lift usage, suggesting clients face outward, requiring the operational roll-stop.

Tests by the Health Sciences Authority revealed that even a single locked wheel would have prevented the wheelchair from rolling off.

Mr Bin advocated the maximum S$10,000 fine for both offenders, citing “momentary negligence,” therefore,  a jail term was not warranted.

Nevertheless, Mr Bin highlighted that the victim’s family entrusted him to Active Global to enable him to “age gracefully, enjoying social interactions with friends in a secure environment with his needs attended to.”

He also emphasised that the tragic and avoidable death was substantially influenced by the negligence of both accused individuals—carelessness exhibited by those directly responsible for ensuring his safety.

An individual responsible for causing someone’s death through a negligent act, not amounting to culpable homicide, can face a maximum penalty of two years in jail, a fine, or both.

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