Jail for man in forklift accident that led to victim's legs being amputated

He was not supposed to drive a forklift forward if his line of vision was blocked but he did, resulting in the vehicle hitting a man and running over his legs.

The victim suffered serious injuries and his lower limbs were subsequently amputated.

Forklift operator Periyasamy, 34, an Indian national, was jailed for two weeks yesterday. He pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous hurt via a negligent act endangering human life.

Court documents stated that the incident occurred at a worksite in Tuas South Boulevard on March 23 last year, when Periyasamy was working as a supervisor for Sembcorp Marine.

On that day, he was tasked to use a forklift to move concrete blocks, each weighing 5,000kg.

The accused knew that he had to keep a safe distance from others, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Lim Shin Hui. If his line of sight in front was impeded, he had to operate the forklift in reverse.

At about 3.30pm, Periyasamy loaded a concrete block and several wooden wedges onto the forklift. He reversed the vehicle, but realised that he would hit some paint cans if he continued doing so.

He decided to go forward despite having his line of vision obstructed by the load.

At that time, the victim, Mr Sevugaperumal Balamurugan, who was working on the site, was heading to a toilet. The 36-year-old Indian national was employed by Entraco Engineering, a subcontractor of Sembcorp Marine.

He noted that the oncoming forklift was moving at a slow speed and continued on his way.

But the vehicle picked up speed and a concrete block hit his left hip, causing him to fall backwards onto the ground.

Periyasamy stepped on the brakes but the forklift was unable to stop immediately - due to its weight and the cargo it was carrying - and it ran over both the victim's legs.

He was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where he was found to have multiple fractures in his lower limbs.

He was transferred to the National University Hospital, where his legs were amputated above the knees, and was hospitalised for 11 days.

He was later fitted with prosthetics at another hospital.

For causing grievous hurt via a negligent act endangering human life, Periyasamy could have been jailed up to two years, or fined up to $5,000, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2021, with the headline 'Jail for man in forklift accident that led to victim's legs being amputated'. Subscribe