Operator jailed for negligence that led to surveyor's death, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Operator jailed for negligence that led to surveyor's death

A certified forklift stacker operator failed to ensure that he had a clear view while transporting a shipping container, which resulted in a quality control surveyor getting crushed to death on Oct 1, 2021.

In earlier proceedings, the court heard that the container, which weighed more than two tonnes, had been lowered onto Mr Teo Ser Kiong, 49. It was 6.06m long, 2.44m wide and 2.59m high.

Malaysian Arumugam Ganesan, 45, who admitted that he had been negligent on the day of the tragedy, was sentenced to 138 days’ jail on April 4 after he pleaded guilty to an offence under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) prosecutor Delvinder Singh said that at the time of the offence, Arumugam and Mr Teo were working for a firm called Allied Container (Engineers & Manufacturers).

Mr Singh added: “The accused had assumed that there was (no other person and no container) in his path when he operated the forklift stacker, resulting in his view being blocked, and the eventual fatality.”

At around 5pm on Sept 30, 2021, Mr Teo gave Arumugam a list of available and damaged containers that were scheduled for export.

Arumugam was tasked to move these containers to their designated locations before they were to be exported the next day.

The two men later reported for work at a depot in Pioneer Crescent on Oct 1, 2021.

In his findings dated May 19, 2023, State Coroner Adam Nakhoda said that, according to evidence, Mr Teo did not inform a depot manager he was entering the working area where the containers were located.

Allied Container’s traffic management plan required staff to notify the depot manager before going into such an area.

The depot manager would then alert stacker operators, so the operators could either avoid the area or stop work in the relevant area that the staff would be in.

Shortly before the tragedy, Mr Teo was seen holding a stack of papers while standing at a storage area and appeared to be checking some containers.

At around 8.45am on Oct 1, 2021, Arumugam used a stacker to move a container.

State Coroner Nakhoda had earlier said: “When Mr Arumugam fully lowered the accident container to ground level... he observed that the container was uneven on the ground.

“From experience, he realised that this meant that there was something underneath the accident container.”

Arumugam then operated the stacker to raise the container and saw Mr Teo lying on the ground. He immediately got out of the stacker and told a depot manager about what had happened.

The police and Singapore Civil Defence Force were alerted at about 9am and Mr Teo, who suffered multiple injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

State Coroner Nakhoda had found his death to be a work-related misadventure.