SINGAPORE: The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has ordered the suspension of the use of a lift where an elderly woman's hand was severed on Friday morning (Oct 9).
The incident happened at Block 322 Tah Ching Road in Taman Jurong. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the incident at 7.27am and when they arrived, they found the elderly woman stuck in the lift on the ground floor with her left hand trapped in between the lift doors.
SCDF officers freed the woman using rescue tools to pry open the lift doors. She was sent to National University Hospital (NUH) with a serious left hand injury. The hospital was alerted to be on standby, SCDF said.
TODAY reported that the woman’s left hand was retrieved by paramedics, packaged in ice and taken to NUH with her.
Taman Jurong grassroots leaders visited the elderly woman and her family members at NUH on Friday afternoon. She was conscious but needed further medical treatment to stablise her condition.
Channel NewsAsia understands that her severed hand cannot be re-attached. She also has a fractured leg.
JURONG TOWN COUNCIL MUST APPOINT AUTHORISED EXAMINER: BCA
BCA said in a statement in the interest of public safety, it has issued a notice to suspend the use of the lift B at block to the Jurong Town Council while investigations are ongoing.
Jurong Town Council must appoint an Authorised Examiner (AE) to conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the incident and to submit the investigation report to BCA. The appointed AE is also required to propose repairs to the lift, if necessary, and engage a registered lift contractor to carry out the recommended repair works.
"BCA is also requiring Jurong Town Council to immediately appoint an AE to inspect the other lift in the same block to confirm that it is safe to be used," a spokesperson said.
"The investigation and proposed measures must be carried out to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Buildings before the incident lift B is allowed to operate.”
The BCA spokesperson also said that the appointed AE will have to propose repairs to the lift, if necessary, and engage a registered lift contractor to carry out the recommended repair works.
Jurong Town Council will also need to appoint an AE to inspect the other lift in the same block to confirm that it is safe to be used.
The BCA spokesperson said: "The investigation and proposed measures must be carried out to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Buildings before the incident lift B is allowed to operate.”
When contacted, a police spokesperson said they are not investigating the incident as no foul play was involved.
WITNESSES TRIED TO HELP
Senior manager of Jurong Town Council Allan Koh told Channel NewsAsia that the woman was walking her dog around the estate early in the morning before the incident. He said witnesses tried to help when they saw the dog outside the lift.
The lift in question was jammed between the second and third floor at the time. When SCDF arrived, the lift had moved down to the ground floor.
A witness said she heard a loud bang when the accident happened. "As I walked further up, I saw an object hanging above the lift on the ground floor and I realised it was a dog," she said.
"I saw that the lift was on the third floor. I didn't know what was going on. So I took the other lift home. Just then, a couple ran upstairs to take a pair of scissors wanting to cut off the leash."
Mr Koh also said inspections of the lift so far have found no fault but that it has yet to be put back in service pending checks by the Building and Construction Authority.
He said the lift doors have safety edges and "a few” sensors that make the doors re-open upon contact with objects. There is also a photo sensor at the bottom that detects movement of feet.
The lifts at the block are about 20 years old.
A Jurong Town Council representative visited the woman’s family in hospital, but was unable to see the patient as of 4pm.
The woman's family has requested privacy and declined to be interviewed.
"SAFETY OF PUBLIC TOP PRIORITY": LIFTMAKER SIGMA
The maker of the lift SIGMA said in a statement on Friday evening that it is working closely with authorities to assist with ongoing investigations. "We are conducting checks of the mechanical device and the safety mechanisms on the elevator doors, to determine if they were functioning properly. A report will be made available once our investigation is completed," it said.
The liftmaker said maintenance is carried out once a month and that it is checking records to confirm when maintenance was last done to the affected lift.
It said Lift A at Block 322 has checked by an independent certified engineer according to the BCA's requirement and it was certified safe for use.