Forklift driver didn't see victim until too late

A man died after getting hit twice by a steel bar that fell from a forklift in an industrial site.
A man died after getting hit twice by a steel bar that fell from a forklift in an industrial site. PHOTO: ST READER

When he braked hard, it caused steel bars to fall and fatally hit lorry driver in workplace

The 52-year-old forklift driver involved in Tuesday's fatal workplace accident, in which steel bars he was loading with a forklift fell and hit a man, has said he initially failed to see the victim.

The forklift driver, identified only as Mr Tay, told Shin Min Daily News that he had been concentrating on the forklift's arms while loading the two steel bars, which weigh about two tonnes in total, onto a lorry.

It was only when he was preparing to lower the arms of the forklift that he realised the 54-year-old Malaysian lorry driver was beside the vehicle. He was caught by surprise as lorry drivers would usually move aside after opening their lorry's sideboards.

As the forklift was moving towards the lorry, Mr Tay stepped hard on the brakes. This caused the forklift to shake and the steel bars to fall on the lorry driver, hitting him twice, said Mr Tay.

He saw the first steel bar hit the man's head, causing him to fall to the ground. Then the second bar hit his chest. He tried to use the forklift to lift up the steel bars, but the man was already bleeding.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday that the use of forklifts has been stopped at the workplace. MOM and police investigations are ongoing and a thorough inspection of the workplace will be conducted.

The accident, which was recorded on closed-circuit television camera and has been circulating on WhatsApp and social media, happened at around 10.40am at CWT Logistics Hub 3 in Tanjong Penjuru, in Pioneer.

The lorry driver, who worked for Euro Pac Logistics, was pronounced dead at the scene by Singapore Civil Defence Force paramedics. The Straits Times understands that the man was Mr Amara Singam, 54.

Mr Tay, who has four years' experience operating a forklift, told Shin Min Daily News that he has been suspended from his job to assist in investigations. However, he added that he plans to resign as he feels partly responsible for what happened.

He said he was at a loss over what to do and has slept for only an hour in the two days since the incident.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said on Tuesday that the use of forklifts has been stopped at the workplace. MOM and police investigations are ongoing and a thorough inspection of the workplace will be conducted.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2017, with the headline 'Forklift driver didn't see victim until too late'. Print Edition | Subscribe