New rules expected in lift-safety drive after recent accidents

May 23, 2018 12:06
Tse King-wa (L), chairman of the Hong Kong General Union of Lift and Escalator Employees, has suggested three things in relation to improving lift maintenance work. Photo: Internet

The government is expected to unveil measures soon to boost safety in old lifts installed in Hong Kong’s buildings, taking action following a spate of accidents in recent months.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) will announce new rules as part of efforts to improve lift safety, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The safety drive comes after the city saw at least two serious incidents involving malfunctioning lifts in a span of two months. 

On April 8, a couple entered a lift at Waterside Plaza in Tsuen Wan only to find the elevator  suddenly ascend at an abnormally high speed and smash into the top of the lift shaft on the 46th floor. The accident resulted in serious injuries to the occupants.

Then on May 11, a 64-year-old woman was dragged and dropped to the bottom of a lift shaft after she took an ascending lift at Paris Court building in Sheung Shui Town Centre. The woman died as a result of the crash.

While both lifts were more than 25 years old, a similar accident occurred on Monday this week in a new lift at Sing Tao News Corporation Building in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate.

In the latest incident, the elevator plummeted during operation, injuring a 49-year-old man who was inside the capsule.

In the wake of the lift accidents, several lawmakers met with Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun and Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services Alfred Sit Wing-hang last week, demanding the government set up a HK$2 billion fund to provide subsidy assistance to help add safety equipment to lifts aged over 20. 

Launch of the fund is likely as soon as next fiscal year that will begin in April 2019, a source told HKEJ.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Council’s Panel on Development is scheduled to discuss next Tuesday issues related to lift safety regulation.

Authorities are expected to soon make public the measures they will take in this regard.

According to some recent media reports, the EMSD may eventually have legislation in place that will require lifts of a certain age to install safety apparatuses, or even call for replacement of the entire lift it they are very old.

Ho Kai-ming, a lawmaker representing the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, said on Tuesday that the measures should include requiring lift operators to submit an annual inspection report and a report of regular maintenance conducted over past two years.

Otto Poon Lok-to, who chairs the Lift and Escalator Safety Advisory Committee that was set up in July 2013, pointed out that a lift should be subject to mandatory replacement once it reaches the age of 40, according to media reports.

Tse King-wa, chairman of the Hong Kong General Union of Lift and Escalator Employees, suggested three things regarding how to improve lift maintenance work:

1. A maintenance worker should not inspect more than six lifts a day; also, there should be two teams -- one will be in charge of regular maintenance while the other would be tasked with maintenance duties in cases of abrupt malfunction.

2. Time spent on regular maintenance of a lift should be no less than 90 minutes.

3. The government should require that an elevator service bidding document list the service life of important parts and the expected time of replacement.

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