A coroner’s court determined on Wednesday (5 Aug) that a security officer at 1-Altitude Gallery & Bar was chasing guests who were entering a restricted area when he fell into a manhole and died half an hour upon falling in.
In the early morning of Sunday (9 June 2019), part-timer Shaun Tung Mun Hon, 26, was lying motionlessly inside a 4m-deep manhole left uncovered on the rooftop of 1 Raffles Place.
He was subsequently pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene due to a head injury.
It began when two patrons of 1-Altitude supposedly pushed the barricades aside that restricted access to an area on the second floor.
Though cordoned off with warning signs as well, the two men advanced past the barriers at about 1.30am to go up the steps to the second floor.
The unidentified men returned to the dancefloor on the first level after being told off by a few security officers.
However, Mr Tung discovered that the two men went up to the second floor and chased after them, shining his torchlight in their direction to warn them.
In the midst of that, he did not shine the light on the floor where the opening of the pit was and fell in, testified the investigating officer from the police force.
An autopsy certified his cause of death as a head injury.
Last year, 1-Altitude’s management confirmed on 10 June that the man was a part-time security officer and had been with the company for slightly less than a year.
“We are very saddened about the passing of our colleague and are working very closely with his family to provide full assistance during this period of grief.”
The management closed the rooftop for a few days following the accident to facilitate police investigations.
Security officer missed briefing on cleaning works
On the first day of the inquiry into his unnatural death, the court heard that Mr Tung had missed the first briefing by the security supervisor to all officers who were working the shift that night because he was running late.
The briefing was to alert the officers to 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.
It was out of bounds to all guests, and employees were not allowed to enter the cordoned area except for valid reasons.
When Mr Tung arrived soon after at about 5.45pm, he was briefed privately and shown the manhole. He was apparently reminded again about the manhole and the opening at least once more that night.
His colleagues noted that he seemed tired after starting the shift between 6pm – 7pm. He held other part-time jobs and according to the police officer, it was unclear if he came from a prior job.
It was found as well that it was only Mr Tung’s second time working as a security officer at 1-Altitude. He had been deployed elsewhere before.
Findings released by Ministry of Manpower
Officers from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) arrived at the scene a few hours after the accident. They noticed the yellow barricades, standing tables and warning signs that stated danger at the area.
However there was no lighting at the area where the manhole was thus rendering it not visible. The MOM officer testified that under normal circumstances, this area was lit up by lighting fixtures on the furniture, but the furniture had been cleared for the workers to carry out cleaning works.
As the area was cordoned off, it was judged that there was no need to provide lighting. The MOM officer added that if the recommended appropriate barricades like fixed hoardings had been installed, it was not mandatory 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 uncovered because the floor slabs used to cover the manhole 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 so as to access the switch before operating.
Even though they were not carrying out works that night, they had left it open as it was “quite troublesome” for them to manoeuvre the heavy floor slabs daily. The contractor also assessed that the barricades used were “sufficient measures” to prevent people from entering it.
In her assessment of the safety practices in place that night, the officer said that there had been no floor covering, and that the barricades and warning signs that were in place were “not effective”.
MOM is still deliberating on 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 released at a later date.