Forklift slams into man twice

A man was hit by a forklift twice while at work.

The lorry driver was waiting at the loading bay when a forklift suddenly reversed into him, pinning him against a concrete pillar.

As he cried out in agony, the forklift moved forward.

But before he could get out of the way, it backed into him again.

The victim, Mr T. Z. Yong, 34, is now in Tan Tock Seng Hospital's intensive care unit after the accident in the compound of Amtech Building at Sin Ming Road last Thursday.

He was talking to another worker while waiting for his lorry to be loaded with goods for delivery when the forklift, which was being driven by a man working for another company, hit him.

Mr Yong's boss, Mr Henry Ho, 30, who runs a logistics and transportation company operating from the compound, rushed to the scene after hearing about the accident.

He saw Mr Yong, a childhood friend, moaning in pain on the ground.

"There was a little blood and urine beside him. The moment I saw it, I knew it was jialat (Hokkien slang for big trouble).

"I was a medic in the army, so I have basic medical skills. I recognised right away that it was internal bleeding," Mr Ho told The New Paper yesterday.

Mr Yong's sister, Ms Cynthia Yong, 31, rushed to the hospital.

The advertising sales executive was joined later by their father, who lives in Johor Baru, Malaysia.

Recalling the harrowing experience, she said: "He was unconscious when I saw him and he was soon wheeled into the operating theatre. The doctor said the operation would take about two to three hours, but it took seven hours in the end."

Mr Yong had another operation last Friday, which lasted two hours.

An additional operation scheduled for yesterday was postponed. (See report above.)

His pelvic bone was fractured. The operations were meant to stop the bleeding in his pelvic region.

He will be undergoing another procedure today to assess the extent of his injuries.

Mr Ho said: "He's lucky that he is tall. Imagine if he was shorter. He would have been pinned in his chest and could have died."

Mr Yong is about 1.9m tall.

Yesterday was the first time that Mr Yong could speak after the ventilator was removed.

But he was weak and could only utter a few words at a time.

When asked why he did not see the forklift, he said: "(It was moving) too fast."

He also could not remember what happened after it ran into him a second time.

"Very painful" was all he said.

LIVING ALONE

His sister fears for his future. Mr Yong has been living alone after their mother died of lung cancer nine months ago.

Ms Yong moved out of the flat after she got married last November.

"We don't know what is going on with his condition at the moment. There might be many more operations in future," she said.

"But I'm more worried about how my brother will take the news if his life were to be badly affected."

The police said that they received a call at about 12.30pm last Thursday and have classified the incident as an industrial accident. Both the police and the Ministry of Manpower are investigating.

Mr Ho was puzzled how the forklift could have knocked into Mr Yong twice. All forklift operators are required to have a special licence. (See report on top.)

He said the accident could have been avoided. He described the loading bay at the compound, which houses mainly light industries, as "chaotic".

"The loading bay is often cluttered, making it dangerous for forklifts to operate. I've told the management to make the changes, but so far, nothing much has been done."

Frustration mounts over uncertain future: Sister

He is well liked by the suppliers and it is not easy to find such a worker these days.

-Mr Henry Ho, describing Mr Yong as a 'very, very good worker'.

My brother is a tough man and lying in bed helplessly is very frustrating for him, said Ms Cynthia Yong.

Mr T. Z. Yong was supposed to have gone for an operation yesterday, but he did not feel comfortable to proceed to surgery, she said.

"He was very agitated because he does not know what was going on and he doesn't know what the future holds," added Ms Yong.

Mr Yong was very close to his mother, who died after a five-year battle against cancer. She was 59.

Ms Yong said she has not thought about how her brother's hospital bills are going to be settled. The siblings' Medisave accounts were wiped out after paying their mother's medical bills.

They were living in a two-room flat in Sengkang, where Mr Yong, who is single, now lives alone. His sister moved out after her marriage.

She said they might have to hire a caregiver for Mr Yong in future.

After their parents were divorced, their father went back to Malaysia.

He has been visiting Mr Yong every day since the accident, but he was too distraught to speak to The New Paper yesterday.

Mr Yong's boss, Mr Henry Ho, who has known him since he was 12, described him as a "very, very good worker".

Mr Ho, who has a Class 5 licence (all kinds of vehicles), is in charge of transport operations in the company.

He said of Mr Yong: "He is well liked by the suppliers and it is not easy to find such a worker these days.

"I'm very grateful to him for joining my company because he gave up a high-paying job as a cement truck driver."

Forklift driver safety and training

Since 2001, the law has required forklift trucks to be operated only by drivers who have passed a Forklift Driver's Training Course conducted by training schools approved by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) "Operate Forklift" Competency Standards replaced the Forklift Driver's Training Course in 2009.

It is the basic mandatory training for all forklift operators and it is also recommended that all forklift operators attend refresher training every three years.

According to a MOM report in 2006, the most common type of fatal accidents involving a forklift occurs when the victim is caught in between an object and the vehicle.

Last year, a man died after the forklift platform he was standing on was accidentally raised, pinning his head against the ceiling and snapping his neck.


This article was first published on June 3, 2014.
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