Forklift driver jailed over fatal steel bar accident

In the accident on May 9 this year, lorry driver Amarasingam Subramaniam was killed when an unsecured load of steel bars crashed onto him at the CWT Logistics Hub 3 in Tanjong Penjuru.
In the accident on May 9 this year, lorry driver Amarasingam Subramaniam was killed when an unsecured load of steel bars crashed onto him at the CWT Logistics Hub 3 in Tanjong Penjuru.PHOTO: ST READER

A forklift driver was lifting an unsecured load of steel bars to place them in the back of a lorry when he braked suddenly, sending the load crashing onto the driver standing by the lorry.

Mr Amarasingam Subramaniam, 54, immediately crumpled to the ground as another bundle of steel bars rolled off the fork and crushed him.

He died from multiple injuries at the CWT Logistics Hub 3 in Tanjong Penjuru, on May 9 this year.

Yesterday, Tay Poh Seng, 52, was sentenced to two months' jail after he was convicted of a rash act causing death.

The court heard that Tay had begun his work shift at about 8.30am that day and carried out one round of loading of steel bars onto the lorry driven by Mr Amarasingam.

About two hours later, Mr Amarasingam returned to Tanjong Penjuru to transport another round of steel bars .

Tay loaded two bundles, each weighing about one tonne, onto his forklift without securing them first.

Mr Amarasingam, in the meantime, was opening the left and right side boards of the lorry so that Tay could load the bundles of steel bars into the back.

Tay, whose back was to Mr Amarasingam and the lorry, turned his forklift towards the lorry with the two bundles of rods held high when he saw Mr Amarasingam near the right side board of the vehicle, instead of the left, as he had expected.

Shocked, Tay immediately applied the forklift brakes, causing one bundle of steel bars to roll off the fork and hit Mr Amarasingam, followed by the second bundle.

What Tay did was against safety practices he had been taught during training. He had taken the risk of driving the forklift in this manner as he wanted to load the steel rods quickly onto the lorry, the court heard.

He was also supposed to keep the fork as low as possible while driving the forklift to minimise the risk of the load or the forklift toppling.

Tay, whose sentence was backdated to Aug 25, could have been jailed for up to five years and/or fined for causing death by a rash act.

Correction note: In an earlier version of this story, we said that Tay Poh Seng was sentenced to 14 months' jail. This is incorrect. He was given two months’ imprisonment. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'Forklift driver jailed over fatal steel bar accident'. Print Edition | Subscribe