SINGAPORE: A part-time security officer who died after falling into a pit at 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar last year had been running towards two customers who were entering a restricted area, a coroner's court heard on Wednesday (Aug 5).
Shaun Tung Mun Hon had died of a head injury aged 26 after falling into the 4m-deep gondola pit - or manhole - on the second floor of 1-Altitude in the early hours of Jun 9 last year, it was revealed.
Part of the second floor had been cordoned off to the public, with warning signs and barricades set up, but two men purportedly pushed aside the barricade at about 1.30am that day to ascend the steps to the restricted area.
The men, who have not been identified, had come from a dancefloor on the first level, and returned there after several security officers shouted at them.
However, when Mr Tung, who was on the second floor looking out, spotted the two men, he ran towards them, shining his torchlight at them to warn them.
He did not shine his light on the floor, where the opening to the pit was, and fell in, testified the investigating officer from the police force.
His colleagues saw him fall in, and his supervisor went to the scene to see him lying face-down in the pit. Paramedics pronounced Mr Tung dead about half an hour after the incident, and an autopsy certified his cause of death as a head injury.
The court heard on its first day of the inquiry into his unnatural death that Mr Tung had missed the first briefing by the security supervisor to all officers on duty that night, as he was late.
The officers were told about a concrete slab cover that was left open on the second floor. The opening led to the gondola pit, which was used for cleaning works, and was out of bounds to all guests. Employees were allowed to enter the cordoned area only for valid reasons.
When Mr Tung arrived minutes later at about 5.45pm, he was briefed privately and shown the manhole. He was also reminded about the manhole and the opening at least one other time that night.
He began his shift with the rest of his colleagues between 6pm and 7pm, and was noted to be tired. He held other part-time jobs, and this was only his second time working as as a security officer at 1-Altitude, as he had been deployed elsewhere before.
It was unclear if he had worked another job on that day, before arriving for the security officer gig, said the police officer.
MANPOWER MINISTRY'S FINDINGS
When officers from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) arrived at the scene a few hours after the accident, they noted yellow barricades, standing tables and warning signs stating danger at the area.
There was no lighting at the area where the manhole was, and it was not visible. Usually, this area was lit up by lighting fixtures on furniture, but the furniture had been cleared by workers to facilitate cleaning, testified an MOM officer.
As the area was cordoned off, it was assessed that there was no need to provide lighting. The officer said that if the recommended appropriate barricades like fixed hoardings had been installed, it was not a requirement for the area to be adequately lit, although "it would be a good practice".
She explained her investigation findings that the opening in the floor was left that way as the floor slabs needed to cover them were very heavy, weighing about 80kg.
The switch operating the gondola was inside the opening, and workers performing facade-cleaning works had left the cover open as they had to access the switch to operate the gondola.
Even though they were not performing works that night, they had left it open as it was "quite troublesome" for them to shift the floor slabs daily. The contractor was also of the view that barricades used were "sufficient measures" to prevent people from entering it.
The MOM officer in her assessment of the safety practices in place that day said that there had been no floor covering, and that while barricades and warning signs were in place, these were "not effective".
MOM is still contemplating any subsequent actions, and its investigations are ongoing, the court heard.
The hearing was attended by Mr Tung's father, sister and family lawyer. The coroner's findings will be provided at a later date.