Man who fell to death at Shaw Plaza site stepped on fragile surface hidden by concrete dust: Coroner

Mr Ramakrishnan Ravichandran plummeted about 5m to the basement of Shaw Plaza and was found lying face down on the ground.
Mr Ramakrishnan Ravichandran plummeted about 5m to the basement of Shaw Plaza and was found lying face down on the ground.PHOTOS: ST FILE, MURUGESAN/IT'S RAINING RAINCOATS

SINGAPORE - A construction worker was carrying out his duties on the first storey of Shaw Plaza shopping mall on Nov 14 last year when he fell nearly 5m through a fragile floor covering that was hidden by concrete dust.

Mr Ramakrishnan Ravichandran was pronounced dead in hospital later that morning.

During an inquiry into his death on Thursday (Dec 3), Coroner Prem Raj said that the 30-year-old Indian national had stepped on a gypsum board, which gave way as it was not meant to support a man's weight.

According to the United States-based Gypsum Association's website, such a board is commonly known as a drywall and is used for wall, ceiling and partition systems.

The coroner said none of the workers at the site in Balestier Road were aware of the fragile floor covering and that they were not alerted to it.

Mr Ramakrishnan, who was wearing a safety helmet, plummeted about 5m to the basement and was found lying face down on the ground. He was pronounced dead at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Coroner Prem said that Mr Ramakrishnan died of multiple injuries, including a fractured skull. His death was an "unfortunate workplace accident", the coroner added.

He also said floor openings should be covered with more secure items such as concrete slabs and that warning signs have to put up in the vicinity if gypsum boards are used.

Mr Ramakrishnan was employed by Express 21, which works on electrical engineering and structured cabling projects for buildings, among other things.

Earlier news reports said that he had been married for less than a year before the tragedy occurred.

His body arrived back in his home town of Vellore in the state of Tamil Nadu on Nov 16 last year. His family, including his wife, widowed mother and siblings, conducted the funeral rites that same day.

His cousin, Mr Murugesan Letchumanan, 34, had told Singapore's Tamil Murasu newspaper: "His life as a married man just started and he did not have any children yet. No one can accept the loss."


Mr Ramakrishnan Ravichandran plummeted about 5m to the basement of Shaw Plaza. PHOTO: ST READER

Mr Ramakrishnan's older brother Parthipan, 32, also worked as a construction worker in Singapore.

Even though they lived in different dormitories, they always made sure to meet up once every two weeks.

Mr Parthipan had said: "You can ask anyone in my village, no one would say anything bad about him. He was always smiling and was friendly to everyone."