SINGAPORE, Oct 9 — A wanton noodle stall owner who got his daughter’s domestic helper to work for him illegally was jailed for two months and fined S$19,000 after the helper’s fingers were cut off by an electric meat grinder.
Lim Sheng Song, 59, had failed to ensure that the helper, Ms Su Su Mar, was properly trained to use the machine and that it was safe for use.
When the foreign domestic worker from Myanmar dropped a butter knife into the grinder, she tried to retrieve it by placing her hand through its opening without first switching it off, severing four of her fingers.
Lim, who owns the Xin Ji noodle stall in Tampines, had earlier pleaded guilty to offences including one charge under the Workplace Safety and Health Act, and two charges under the Employment of Foreign Manpower Act. Another similar charge was taken into consideration for sentencing.
Besides Ms Su Su Mar, court documents stated that Lim also got two other domestic workers to help out illegally at his stall, one of whom was in his employ.
His daughter, Lim Sock Hong, was earlier fined S$7,000. The 36-year-old pleaded guilty to allowing the women whom she had employed to work as kitchen assistants for her father at the stall.
Lim’s wife, Koh Siew Imm, 59, was given a stern warning for similarly instructing the workers to help out in running the business. The prosecution had withdrawn two charges against her.
Court documents stated that Ms Su Su Mar was hired by Lim Sock Hong but had never actually worked for her throughout her employment.
From November 2017 to January 2019, Ms Su Su Mar had instead been working and residing with Lim Sheng Song who lived separately from his daughter.
At Lim’s home, Ms Su Su Mar was instructed to prepare the wanton dumplings and grind chilli using an electric meat grinder.
She did this daily from 2am to 7pm, taking a rest from 7am to 9.30am, except on Wednesdays when the stall was closed. This was on top of about an hour’s worth of household chores.
She was not paid extra for assisting in the food stall business and earned S$600 a month, inclusive of day-off compensation.
On Jan 31, 2019, Ms Su Su Mar was working in the kitchen of Lim’s Loyang home when she used a butter knife to push ingredients into the meat grinder.
When the knife slipped from her hand, she immediately tried to retrieve the knife by placing her right hand through the opening of the grinder without switching it off.
The blade in the grinder severed four of her fingers. She was taken to the Singapore General Hospital for treatment and as a result, the four fingers were amputated.
Investigations revealed that the grinder came with a plastic hoop that prevents a user’s hands from reaching the mincing component of the grinder.
However, the plastic hoop was broken and discarded, and Lim knew this.
Investigations also showed that the grinder came with a push tool with a long handle that allowed a user to push ingredients into the grinder. Ms Su Su Mar used a butter knife instead.
Lim had earlier also made another maid work as his kitchen helper from 2015 to 2018.
For each charge of employing a foreign worker as a kitchen helper without a valid work pass, Lim could have been fined up to S$30,000, jailed for up to a year, or punished with both. For failing to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and health of his employee at work, he could have been fined up to S$200,000, jailed for up to two years, or punished with both. — TODAY