Before Operating a Forklift, Know Which Gear is Forward

Police LineA 27-year-old Malaysian man learned the hard way that it’s a bad idea to get behind the wheel of a forklift if you don’t know the difference between the forward gear and reverse. His mistake landed him in the jailhouse and left another man with a serious disability.

Theenatayalan Ahumoolam, an employee of the food distributor Gan Teck Kar Investments, in Singapore, was working at the company’s office building in Sin Ming Road on May 29th of last year when he noticed a pile of wood pallets lying on the loading bay.

No Forklift Certification

Despite the fact that he is not licensed to operate a forklift, Ahumoolam thought it would be a good idea to straighten up a bit by jumping into a nearby lift truck and doing the job himself.

Unfortunately, he put the forklift into the wrong gear. So instead of moving forward, the vehicle jerked backwards, pinning a truck driver — Leonard Yong Tze Chiang, 34 — between the forklift and a concrete pillar, according to a report from Channel News Asia.

Alarmed, Ahumoolam tried to use the vehicle to release Yong. But he engaged the wrong gear again, slamming into Yong a second time.

LIfe-Changing Injuries

Yong was rushed to nearby Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for a shattered pelvis. He subsequently has had other operations and six months after the accident still required the use of a catheter and colostomy bag.

Yong’s employer told reporters that had he been shorter, he could have been killed because the forklift would have smashed his chest into the pillar rather than his pelvis.

Driver’s Day in Court

Last week, Ahumoolam pleaded guilty to causing grievous hurt by acting so negligently as to endanger the life or safety of others. He begged for mercy from Judge Siva Shanmugam, claiming that he never meant to hurt anybody.

But the judge felt that the nature of the case and the victim’s injury warranted a jail term. He sentenced Ahumoolam to a week in a Singapore jail. He had been eligible for up to two years in prison and a fine of up to S$5,000, the equivalent of $3,743.



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