SMRT worker who died at Bishan Depot last year was hit in the face by 5kg rod: Coroner's inquiry

Muhammad Afiq Senawi had been hit in the face by a 5kg rod that flew out from a piece of heavy equipment. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - An SMRT technical officer who died while working at Bishan Depot in March last year had been hit in the face by a 5kg rod that flew out from a piece of heavy equipment.

During a coroner's inquiry on Friday (Feb 26) into the death of Mr Muhammad Afiq Senawi, 30, the court heard that he was operating a hydraulic press machine when a spacer rod flew out of the machine, broke through fencing, and hit him in the face.

Hydraulic press machines are used for industrial purposes and can be powerful enough to crush cars.

Taking the stand as the first witness, Staff Sergeant Amirudin Nordin, who was an investigation officer in the case, testified that Mr Afiq was operating the machine at the Rolling Stock Workshop, with a co-worker assisting him on March 23, 2020.

Mr Afiq had gone to the work station after a safety briefing that morning and his co-worker arrived there later. The latter did not check with Mr Afiq if he had done the safety checks, as he assumed Mr Afiq would have completed them.

While the pair were using the machine, the co-worker noticed that a rubber pad was not aligned properly and they agreed that something was wrong with a component of the machine and stopped it.

Staff Sergeant Amirudin said that according to the co-worker, he had looked away to check on something when he heard the machine operating again. He then heard a loud bang and saw a hole in the fencing gate around the machine. A spacer rod was seen on the floor.

The co-worker saw Mr Afiq falling backward, said Staff Sergeant Amirudin. "(The deceased was) lying face up gasping for air," he said.

Blood started gushing out of Mr Afiq's mouth, and another co-worker pulled his tongue out to stop him from choking. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed on Mr Afiq before the ambulance arrived and took him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. He died later that morning.

An autopsy report identified face and chest injuries as the cause of his death. A medical report from the emergency department showed that an object which weighed 5kg flew into his face.

Staff Sergeant Amirudin told the court that investigations showed the spacer rod in the hydraulic press machine flew out, penetrating the fence and hitting Mr Afiq in the face. No foul play was found, he added.

He also clarified that the fencing is to prevent workers from putting their hands in the machine, and is not meant to protect against objects flying out.

Mr Afiq's fiancee, sister and brother attended the hearing.

It has been adjourned to a later date, with an officer from the Ministry of Manpower expected to take the stand.

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