Man killed by machine at Rifle Range workplace: Here's how accident happened

Prisca Ang
The Straits Times
Jan 6, 2023

The death of a worker in Rifle Range Road on Dec 27 was the result of forklift forks being raised before they were fully inserted under a machine, preliminary investigations have found.

The lifting of the partially inserted forks caused the machine to topple onto the worker, who later died in hospital from his injuries.

In an alert on Thursday, the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council said the worker was guiding the forklift to position its forks under the machine when the accident happened.

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

The Dec 27 accident occurred at about 7.50am at 601 Rifle Range Road, a site near Upper Peirce Reservoir that is occupied by ST Engineering Advanced Material Engineering, the Ministry of Manpower said previously.

A 62-year-old man was arrested after the worker’s death. He was suspected of causing death by a negligent act.

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

WSH Council’s alert on Thursday said there were six cases of forklift-related fatal workplace accidents in 2022. Two cases involved workers being crushed under forklifts that toppled from unbalanced loads, while in another two instances, workers were run over or crushed by moving forklifts.

The remaining two incidents, including the latest case, involved forklift forks toppling objects onto workers.

The WSH Council said companies should allow only competent and authorised workers to operate forklifts.

“Ensure all forklift operators have completed the necessary certifications such as the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications Operate Forklift Course. Require forklift operators to attend refresher training at least once every three years,” it said.

Firms 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.

“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,” said the WSH Council.

Forklift operators must also confirm that all workers are in a safe position before starting operations. When picking up a load, the operator must raise the forks only when there is no one in the danger zone – an area near machinery where one can get injured. They must also stop the forklift operations if anyone is in an unsafe position.

The council added: “Communicate to workers the possible on-site hazards and risk controls in place before allowing forklift operations to begin. Deploy a supervisor to oversee operations and ensure that the work is carried out as per safe work procedures.”

The Straits Times

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.