Cleaner electrocuted: Court points to footwear lapse

A 29-year-old cleaner who died of electrocution might have survived if he had been wearing a pair of safety boots. Instead, Mr Kabir Mohammad Faysal was barefooted when he used a badly-wired high pressure water jet on June 5.

Calling his death an "unfortunate industrial misadventure", State Coroner Marvin Bay yesterday urged workers to conscientiously stick to wearing safety footwear in a work area to avert accidents.

The coroner's court inquest heard how Mr Faysal, who had returned from Bangladesh three days earlier, had requested to work overtime. He was given a cleaning job in Hougang that day.

The ATL Maintenance employee of almost five years was washing the rear area of Block 158, Hougang Street 11 when he collapsed suddenly. A witness tried to resuscitate him before the paramedics arrived. Mr Faysal was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital unconscious, but died two hours later.

Investigations by the Ministry of Manpower showed the water jet's motor assembly and switch to be in good condition.

But a detailed inspection of the plug showed that the cables were not well terminated. The live cable had been connected but was too long, and had been crammed inside the plug.

The ground cable was too short to be connected to its terminal and had its exposed end located near the live terminal.

Coroner Bay said Mr Faysal got an electric shock when he came into contact with the energised metallic body of the spray gun.

The primary cause had been the misassembled plug, he said.

But another major contributory cause was Mr Faysal's failure to use any footwear while operating the electrically-powered high pressure water jet.

"Had Mr Faysal been using safety footwear, his shoes might well have provided adequate insulation to prevent a circuit from being completed through his body, and the lethal current consequently causing his demise," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Cleaner electrocuted: Court points to footwear lapse'. Print Edition | Subscribe