No foul play in the case of worker who bled to death after being trapped in lift shaft for hours: Coroner

Bangladeshi national Hossain Mohammad Sahid got trapped inside the lift shaft at the Chan Brothers Building in North Bridge Road. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE

SINGAPORE - A coroner has ruled that no foul play occurred during an incident in which a lift technician was trapped inside a lift shaft for more than four hours and bled to death.

Bangladeshi national Hossain Mohammad Sahid was carrying out repair work on the top of a lift car inside the lift shaft at the Chan Brothers Building in North Bridge Road when the car moved, trapping his left arm, leg and ribcage between the car and the wall of the shaft.

While the 29-year-old was responsive at first, paramedics could not rescue him and provide effective medical treatment for his injuries, which included a gaping 30cm by 10cm wound on his left arm, because of the confined space.

Mr Hossain eventually died inside the lift shaft.

The coroner's court heard that on Feb 27 last year, Mr Hossain was repairing the lift, which had a faulty "Up" button, with his colleagues, who were identified only as Wong and Rafiqul.

Coroner Christopher Goh wrote in his findings last Tuesday (May 10) that although there was no evidence of foul play, the accident could have been prevented.

He noted that all work should have been halted once it was discovered that the button inside the lift was faulty, as someone operating the lift from the control room would not have line of sight of the workers in the shaft.

This was also the position taken by the Ministry of Manpower that was noted in coroner's findings.

"This would increase the chances of an accident occurring," he wrote.

Mr Wong said Mr Hossain asked him to operate the lift from the lift control room and suggested they communicate through WhatsApp calls.

Mr Hossain would call Mr Wong to give him instructions on going up or down while he worked in the lift shaft.

During their repair work, before Mr Wong had finished giving him instructions, Mr Hossain flipped the switch on the control panel on top of the lift car to "Normal" mode before Wong could put the lift in "Inspection" mode from the control room.

The coroner found that Mr Hossain had activated the automated movement of the lift, which ascended to the nearest floor after he manually flipped the switch to "Normal" mode before Mr Wong could switch it to "Inspection" mode.

This caused Mr Hossain to be trapped between the lift car and the lift shaft.

Mr Wong heard a loud scream coming from the lift shaft. He put the lift to "Inspection" mode and cut off the power.

Mr Rafiqul, who was in the lift car, felt the lift car move slightly downwards and heard Mr Hossain screaming "Stop, stop, stop!" in English.

Above: The building at 450 North Bridge Road, where the worker was trapped in the lift shaft. Left: Extricating him took about six hours, in what SCDF said was a highly complex and delicate operation. Below: Police officers at the scene yesterday. PH
Extricating the technician took about six hours, in what SCDF said was a highly complex and delicate operation. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Based on call logs, the accident occurred at about 11am.

When Mr Wong went to check on him, Mr Hossain said that his left hand was stuck between the guide rail bracket of the shaft and the lift car.

Mr Wong opened the lift doors to free Mr Rafiqul.

The authorities were alerted and the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Fire Rescue Team entered the shaft where they found Mr Hossain's ribcage, left arm, and left leg trapped between the lift car and the shaft.

His left arm had a deep cut and was bleeding.

The team did not have the correct tools to extricate Mr Hossain and activated the Disaster and Fire Rescue Team (Dart).

Mr Hossain was conscious and communicating with his rescuers but he was having trouble breathing and was given oxygen.

Dart arrived at 12.10pm but the confined space of the lift shaft hindered their rescue efforts.

At 1pm, a medical support team was activated. Arriving at 1.30pm, a doctor went down the lift shaft and inserted a drip into Mr Hossain's right arm, and gave him painkillers and medication to stabilise him, but he was unable to access his left arm.

Several options including a field amputation were considered but were hindered by the confined space.

At 3.43pm, Mr Hossain was not breathing and had no pulse.

It was assessed to be unfeasible to conduct cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him as he was in a vertical position. The metal materials of the lift car and shaft made it unsafe to do defibrillation, which would require electric shocks.

Mr Hossain was pronounced dead, and the cause of death was haemorrhage due to blunt force trauma to his left arm.

SCDF managed to free his body at 5.35pm.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.