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Rifle Range Road workplace fatality- Forklift

Ely Chow the 31 year old who died in the Rifle Range Road workplace safety accident was about to get married in 2023. His death on Dec 27 was the result of forklift forks being raised without being fully inserted under the machine, the machine toppled and killed him subsequently, that's according to Ministry of Manpower preliminary investigations. The 62-year-old man who was operating the forklift was arrested after the worker’s death. He was suspected of causing death by a negligent act.


This finding was shared in an alert issued by the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council on Thursday. WSH Council alert said the worker was guiding the forklift to position its forks under the machine when the accident happened.


WSH Council said that all companies using forklifts should urgently assess their safety measures in the use of such vehicles.


Mr Ely Chow, 31, who was employed by labour supply company RCM Resources.


According to WSH Council’s alert, there had been six cases of forklift-related fatal workplace accidents in 2022. Two cases involved workers being crushed under forklifts that toppled from unbalanced loads. In another two instances, workers were run over or crushed by moving forklifts. The remaining two incidents, involved forklift forks toppling objects onto workers.


The WSH Council reminded that companies should allow only competent and authorised workers to operate forklifts which is the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications Operate Forklift Course and forklift operators to attend refresher training at least once every three years.


Companies should also have a safe work procedure for moving heavy equipment and machines. They can consult manufacturers for advice on how specific items can be moved safely. Forklift operators must have a clear view of the lifting operation, and check that the spread of the forks is suitable for the width of the load. They should also insert the forks under the load fully or as far as possible.


The WSH Council shared its professional reminder on use of forklifts "Raise the forks slightly to check that the load is stable on the forks. Tilt back the forks slightly to prevent slippage before moving off with the load. Wherever possible, loads ought to be placed on pallets as pallets enable safer load handling. Loads that may topple or fall and endanger a worker must be properly secured onto the pallet before being moved.”


The sister of Ely Chow, Ruth Chow said her brother's future was taken from him in an instant.

Ruth said: “All this was robbed from him just like that. As much as you want to think, ‘Okay, it was an accident’, but how much of an accident is an accident?”


Mr Ethan Chow, the younger brother of Ely Chow, said his brother started working for the firm as a general worker in June 2022 and was due to leave the part-time gig and start a new job in January 2023.


Mr Ely Chow, who was passionate about animals, had studied marine life and aquaculture at the University of Tasmania. He stayed on in Australia after graduating, working in abalone and fish farming for two years till his visa expired in 2019.


Its unfortunate and unfair that people lose their lives in workplace accidents. Accidents that can clearly and easily be prevented.


Do you agree with Ruth Chow that more should be done by the Ministry of Manpower or WSH Council or the employers to prevent accidents?




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