14 Jun 2018

Cause of death in lift shaft unclear

2:31 pm on 14 June 2018

Exactly what lead to the death of a man who was crushed in a lift shaft in Wellington in January 2016 remains unclear.

Brendon Scheib.

Brendon Scheib. Photo: Supplied

Coroner Tim Scott has released his findings into the death of Brendon Scheib, a 54-year-old lift technician who was killed while working in a central city building known as the Harcourts Building.

The Newlands man was working for Otis Elevator Company at the time.

Because Mr Scheib was on his own when he died, it was not known exactly what he did before the accident, the coroner found after a hearing in March.

It's thought Mr Scheib entered the lift pit via the pit ladder to check the bottom floor door lock.

According to safety rules, Mr Scheib needed to either turn off the lift, and lock it out so it couldn't be reactivated, or disable it in two different ways.

This could be done in a number of ways, but one was to activate pit switches and make sure the lift door was open, and stayed open.

One pit switch had been activated, and it was possible Mr Scheib thought both were on.

This was possible, but unlikely given the technician's experience, the coroner said.

There was some evidence a screwdriver or wedge had been used to keep the lift door open, but that it may have been knocked out or moved.

However using a screwdriver to wedge a door open went against Otis safety rules.

Mr Scheib must have failed to make the lift safe, the coroner found. Or, he breached safety rules and used a screwdriver, which was dislodged.

In response to concerns from the Scheib family that OTIS had failed to keep Mr Scheib safe, and that he was working alone, the coroner said the accident happened because Mr Scheib failed to use the proper measures to keep himself safe.

It was unlikely having two people on the job would've saved Mr Scheib's life.