Dog leash too thin for lift doors to detect
Investigation into Jurong lift accident finds that doors' protective devices did not detect obstruction because...
The lift doors' protective devices were working on the day Madam Khoo Bee Wah's left hand was severed.
But the dog leash that was looped around her wrist was only 2mm thick and was too thin to be detected.
This was revealed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Friday (Nov 6), after it received the final investigation report from the independent Authorised Examiner (AE) appointed by Jurong Town Council.
If the lift doors were closing, they would reopen if an object was placed within the detectable range of the protective devices.
The AE also revealed that a passenger would need to apply a considerable amount of force to prise the cabin doors open in a normal situation.
During the incident, however, the sudden dragging of the leash in a downward direction through the bottom of the lift cabin doors when the lift was ascending likely caused a gap.
Madam Khoo's hand was pulled towards the gap because she was unable to react in time to release the leash.
The AE recommends that the public be more aware of precautions such as keeping small and thin objects, such as a dog leash or dangling straps of backpacks, away from lift doors.
A spokesman for BCA said: "Lifts are part and parcel of our everyday life in Singapore's densely built-up environment.
"BCA will continue its regular review of the safety and maintenance standards of lifts and work closely with the industry to ensure our standards continue to be on a par with the latest international standards.
"The Tah Ching Road lift incident is a very unfortunate one. We are saddened by what has happened to Madam Khoo and hope that she recovers well from this traumatic experience."
I am glad to know the lift is functional. Previously, there have been instances when we were trapped in the lift, or the door would not close properly, but it has never been as serious.
— Block 322 resident Sally Ong, 43, accounting assistant, who is waiting for the affected lift to be operational again
I carry my three-year-old boy whenever we use the lift, even before the freak incident, because it hasn’t been working properly. Although the lift has not reached its maximum lifespan, it needs a complete overhaul so residents can feel confident to use it again.
— Block 322 resident Seow, a manager in her 30s
TNP INFOGRAPHICS: KELVIN CHAN
1 At 7.30am on Oct 9, Madam Khoo Bee Hua, 85, was on her way to her Jurong flat after walking her dog.
2 She entered lift B at Block 322, Tah Ching Road, holding a walking stick, her mail and the dog leash in her left hand.
3 Looking at her mail, she pressed the lift button with her right hand and did not realise her dog was outside the lift cabin when the doors closed.
4 The dog leash, which was around her left wrist, went undetected by the doors' protective devices.
5 There are two sets of doors - the lobby doors and the doors of the lift.
When the lift started to ascend, the leash became taut and Madam Khoo was forced downwards to the floor while her dog was pulled upwards. As a result of the force of the lift moving upwards and the pull of the leash, a small gap was prised open at the bottom of the lift doors. Madam Khoo's left hand slipped out of the gap between the lift doors and lobby doors.
6 The gap between the two sets of doors narrowed as the lift ascended. Madam Khoo's hand was crushed and severed. The lift came to a gradual stop as the opening of the lift doors triggered the emergency stop feature. This means the lift will level itself to the nearest landing. In this case, it was unable to level itself and descended to the first storey. The Singapore Civil Defence Force had to prise open the doors to get her out.
7 Madam Khoo was taken to the hospital, where she underwent a four-hour operation to close the wound after her hand could not be reattached.
The elderly woman, who also broke her left leg when she fell, is still recovering at Jurong Community Hospital, where she is expected to remain for another 10 weeks or so, reported The Straits Times yesterday.
SHE WAS HER USUAL SELF
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, adviser to Jurong Grassroots Organisations, in response to the Authorised Examiner's report:
"Madam Khoo has been recovering steadily from her traumatic accident a month ago. When I saw her again at Jurong Community Hospital earlier this week, she was her usual indomitable self.
"The doctors and nurses who are treating her are inspired by her determination to get back to as much of her active and independent life as possible.
The town council will take responsibility to support Madam Khoo, who has suffered severe injury and pain. I'm glad its insurer has offered to assist her.
"We, in the community, will make sure that she has all the care she needs and her friends around her, besides the loving support of her family."
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