Worker dies in freak accident at Yeo Hiap Seng factory

Poh Chee Kian, 48, was the youngest of nine siblings. He died from severe internal injuries caused by the accident on Wednesday.
Poh Chee Kian, 48, was the youngest of nine siblings. He died from severe internal injuries caused by the accident on Wednesday.ST PHOTO: WALTER SIM

A worker was crushed to death on Wednesday in a freak accident at local drink manufacturer Yeo Hiap Seng's factory in Senoko Way.

According to preliminary findings by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), 48-year-old Poh Chee Kian was unloading goods from a shipping container when the trailer it was on moved, pinning him against a concrete barrier.

The Straits Times understands the trailer was carrying more than 10 tonnes when its 64-year-old driver allegedly reversed into Mr Poh, who died in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital from serious internal injuries. "We were told his kidney and liver had broken into pieces," said his brother Poh Leong Kiat, 49.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force confirmed it received a call at 9.46am and it dispatched an ambulance to the scene. As police investigate the unnatural death, MOM has instructed that all loading and unloading activities at the site be halted.

It is understood that Mr Poh was an employee at logistics firm Flair Forwarder, which Yeo Hiap Seng had hired as a sub-contractor.

The driver, who gave his name only as Mr Neo, said he was filled with guilt. He said he had been accident-free in his 20 years of operating heavy vehicles. "I followed safety operating procedures and checked that the coast was clear before I reversed," he said in Mandarin. "I have no idea how he got behind the vehicle in those few seconds."

The youngest of nine siblings, the late Mr Poh was single and lived with eldest brother Poh Chee Keong, 54, who said he was hardworking, often leaving home at 5am and returning from work at 8pm.

When The Straits Times visited his wake in Tampines yesterday, family members said they were exasperated by the conflicting accounts from the various parties involved.

They said they were told he was not unloading goods at the time, as was his job; rather, he had been asked to help "bring in the vehicle, which was parked too far from the unloading berth". His brother Leong Kiat said: "A life has been lost. We don't need compensation but rather a proper explanation of what happened, so we can have closure."

waltsim@sph.com.sg