Thu, Aug 04, 2011 - Page 1 News List

TRTC employee dies in work accident

CUTTING CORNERS?One question being asked was whether the accident could have been prevented if there had been more than one staff member on duty at the station

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Broken steps are seen on an escalator at Dingxi MRT Station in Yonghe District, New Taipei City yesterday. A deputy station director died, apparently after falling through a hole in the escalator while carrying flood prevention equipment.

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Taipei Times

The deputy station director at Taipei’s Dingxi MRT Station died yesterday after falling into a 1.5m-deep hole on an escalator caused by equipment being used for maintenance work, sparking concerns about safety measures at Taipei Rapid Transit Corp (TRTC).

Kuo Cheng-chieh (郭政杰), 34, fell into the hole created by a 3m-long anti-flood board that hit the escalator at exit 1 of the station after he dropped it while trying to carry it up the escalator.

TRTC said Kuo fell into the hole at about 2:40am, but was not discovered until 5am when the station’s security guard found him.

It took firefighters about three hours to get Kuo out of the hole, before rushing him to Cardinal Tien Hospital in Yonghe, New Taipei City (新北市).

Kuo was later pronounced dead.

The hospital said the cause of death was blood loss from an injury to his femoral artery.

It was the first deadly accident involving TRTC staff using maintenance equipment.

TRTC deputy chairman Shen Chih-chang (沈志藏) said Kuo was carrying the anti-flood board to test anti-flood equipment at the station, work that should have been done by two employees.

“We don’t know why Kuo did not wait for the night-shift security guard and decided to work alone ... TRTC will cooperate with an investigation launched by prosecutors,” he said.

TRTC also failed to explain why it took the security guard such a long time to find Kuo.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) paid a visit to Kuo’s family at the hospital yesterday afternoon and instructed TRTC to help the family with Kuo’s funeral service.

“Accidents are the last thing we want to see and TRTC will take responsibility, give proper -compensation to Mr Kuo’s family and examine its safety measures,” Hau said.

In response to concerns about the delayed rescue effort, Shen said each MRT station has one staff member on duty after services stop at about midnight, while a security guard patrols the station every hour.

He declined to comment on whether the accident could have been prevented if there had been more than one staff member on duty at the station, but said TRTC would examine its procedures.

Taipei City’s Department of Labor Affairs said it would look into possible safety flaws at TRTC, while police and prosecutors in New Taipei City have launched an investigation into the case.

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