A 22-year-old labourer narrowly escaped with his life on Sunday when a lift he and his team were lowering with the help of a chain came crashing down five floors with him on top of it. He suffered severe injuries and has been in a critical condition since.
The Tata Communication centre building in Prabhadevi, where the accident took place
Gurudas Laxman and a team of workers have been working on removing two out of the four lifts at Tata Communication centre, Prabhadevi, since November 1 as part of a contract given to a private contractor, Ashraf Sheikh. Laxman was on top of the lift on Sunday when it was being lowered with the help of a chain-pulley system.
The pulley had been suspended from a beam, which failed to take the weight of the lift and the labourer and gave way. The lift then hurtled down five floors with the 22-year-old on top of it. Laxman was rushed to KEM hospital around 7.30 am.
“He was bleeding profusely and the bone of his right hand was visible through the wound,” said one of Laxman’s co-workers, adding that the youth, who is a native of Bihar, had been doing such jobs only for three months. He had no formal training and had been learning on the job. He lives with a co-worker, Prafulla Satam, in Kurla.
Around 9.30 pm the same day, Laxman was moved to Hinduja Hospital in Mahim. An attending orthopaedic doctor at the hospital said Laxman had sustained severe injuries and his condition was expected to remain critical for a few days.
“He has sustained multiple injuries, with internal bleeding. He has fractured three ribs and his right hand,” he said. Laxman has been in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) since Sunday.
The Dadar police station, under whose jurisdiction the building falls, is investigating the matter to see if negligence on anyone’s part led to the accident.
Dr Mahesh Patil, DCP (Zone V) said, “We will closely examine whether safety measures were followed by the contractor. If not, the victim’s employer will be booked under Section 338 of the IPC for endangering life due to negligence.”
The investigating officer (IO), Sub-inspector Shivaji Patil, from the Dadar police station, however, told this reporter that Laxman was using a safety harness and all safety measures had been followed.
The IO went on leave on Wednesday, in the middle of the investigation, raising the question whether attempts were being made to safeguard the guilty, if any. Asked about this, DCP Patil said, “Let the investigation get over. We aren’t trying to save anybody here.”
When mid-day asked officials at the Public Works Department’s lift maintenance department, they showed no sign of being aware of the incident. A team was finally sent yesterday for inspection to find out the cause of the accident.
Bharat Gala, assistant electrical inspector, PWD, said, “The lifts were in working condition, but the accident happened due to excess pressure on the beam.
It couldn’t support the weight of the lift and the labourer and gave way, causing the crash.” Asked why the labourer fell despite being harnessed, Gala said that the harness had also been attached to the same beam.
Sources said that the Tata Group is bearing the cost of Laxman’s treatment. A spokesperson of the Tata Group, said, “It is an unfortunate incident. Since it took place in our establishment, we will make sure that the labourer receives prompt treatment and medication.”
Asked about the incident and whether adequate safety measures had been taken, Ashraf Shaikh, the contractor for whom Laxman worked, said, “All the answers have been given to the safety department.” He refused to comment further.