Coroner rules man died after lift pinned him to top of shaft

A technician was killed after a lift car he was working on moved upwards, pinning him to the top of the shaft.

In an inquiry yesterday into Mr Magendran Kisnasami's death, Coroner Marvin Bay said the Malaysian had failed to activate the "inspection" mode while performing maintenance work on top of the lift car in a house near Adam Road.

The coroner, who found Mr Magendran's death to be a tragic misadventure, added that functions within the car and landings should have been disabled when the lift was in the inspection mode.

Instead, the lift was in the "normal" mode when one of the residents of the Jalan Sejarah semi-detached house, Madam Gan Kim Guat, took it to the third storey, trapping the worker.

On Dec 13 last year, Mr Magendran, 35, who worked for Gylet Elevator, was deployed to Madam Gan's home at 10.40am .

Coroner Bay said Madam Gan admitted to not keeping track of where Mr Magendran had gone and proceeded to use the lift.

The coroner also noted that Mr Magendran had not placed any barricade or sign to indicate to Madam Gan that maintenance work was in progress.

The coroner, who found Mr Magendran's death to be a tragic misadventure, added that functions within the car and landings should have been disabled when the lift was in the inspection mode.

When she reached the third storey, she suddenly heard the technician's voice from above the lift, shouting for help.

Her husband, Mr Low Keok Giap, also heard the cries after she had stepped out of the lift and the doors had closed. He tried to press a button to open the doors but they remained shut.

Coroner Bay said this was because Mr Magendran had activated the lift's inspection mode only after he was pinned - disabling the landing and lift car controls. As a result, he remained trapped.

The coroner added: "In his trapped position, Mr Magendran could not breathe due to the exertion of compressive forces of his chest for a sustained period, leading to his eventual death from traumatic asphyxia."

The technician was freed when a colleague came to the house and got the lift to move downwards after performing a bypass by short-circuiting the lift control panel circuit.

Mr Magendran was unconscious when an ambulance took him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. The father of three children aged two to seven was pronounced dead at 3.49am last Dec 14.

Yesterday, Coroner Bay said that following this tragedy, the Ministry of Manpower and the Building and Construction Authority issued advisories to promote safer and better lift inspection procedures.

Their joint advisory, titled "Risk control measures for lift maintenance personnel", was sent out to all lift owners and the industry on May 18 this year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2018, with the headline 'Coroner rules man died after lift pinned him to top of shaft'. Print Edition | Subscribe