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LCQ17: Lift incidents

Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 19):

Question:

On the 25th of last month, a lift in Shin Nga House of Fu Shin Estate in Tai Po plunged to the ground from great height. It was reported that the situation was very serious as seven of the eight suspension ropes of the lift had snapped. However, the management company of the estate did not notify the residents immediately after the accident. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number and details of lift failures in various public housing estates over the past two years, as well as the number of these cases which involved lifts of the same model as the one involved in the above incident; whether the authorities knew about the situation immediately after each incident, and whether announcements were made;

(b) of the existing maintenance requirements, including the frequency and extent of inspections, for lifts in various categories of buildings; whether the authorities will, in view of the above incident, issue guidelines or requirements on items to note for undertaking maintenance and repair works for lifts; and

(c) how the Government regulates the arrangements for notification of lift failures by management companies?

Reply:

President,

The Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance (Cap 327) provides the statutory framework to ensure lift safety of private buildings in Hong Kong. The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department ("EMSD") is responsible for regulating lifts in private buildings under the Ordinance. Lifts in public housing estates managed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority and buildings owned by the Government are not covered by the Ordinance. The lifts in these estates and buildings are regulated by other relevant bodies.

The reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) Lifts in public housing estates (Estates under the Tenant Purchase Scheme are excluded) are regulated by the Housing Department. Should there be any lift incidents that result in injuries or damages to the mechanical parts of a lift affecting its normal operation, the estate management office is required to report to the Lift Ordinance Enforcement Unit of the Independent Checking Unit of the Housing Department as soon as possible. This arrangement is made with reference to the requirements of the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance (Cap 327). A breakdown of the number of lift incidents since 2006-07 till end-September 2008 is as follows:

Year Total Number of Incidents Incidents not involving Equipment Failure Incidents involving Equipment Failure
----
---------
-------
-------
2008/09
(as at end-September)
32
30
2
2007/08
66
63
3
2006/07
71
68
3

Since 2006/07, there has not been any lift incident in public housing estates which involved lifts of the same model as the one involved in the incident of Fu Shin Estate, Tai Po.

Should there be any equipment failure that requires the suspension of lift service for carrying out maintenance, the estate management office will post a notice at the building to inform the residents and handle the case as soon as possible. As for other minor incidents which do not involve the lifts' functioning (e.g. passengers tripping over when using a lift or getting injured due to the opening or closing of the lift door), the estate management office will immediately assist the injured and report to the Lift Ordinance Enforcement Unit of the Independent Checking Unit of the Housing Department according to the above mechanism.

(b) The Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance governs lifts in private buildings. The cycles of periodic maintenance, periodic examination and periodic testing for lifts as required under the Ordinance are as follows:

(i) for periodic maintenance, every lift shall be inspected, cleaned, oiled and adjusted by a registered lift contractor at intervals not exceeding one month. The Code of Practice for Lift Works and Escalator Works drawn up by the EMSD further requires lift contractors to carry out the above maintenance services at least once every two weeks, or as specified in the guidelines of the manufacturer (whichever interval is shorter);

(ii) for periodic examination, every lift shall be thoroughly examined by a registered lift engineer at intervals not exceeding 12 months; and

(iii) for periodic testing, the safety equipment of every lift shall be tested by a registered lift engineer at intervals not exceeding 12 months with the lift not carrying any load, and such safety equipment shall be tested by a registered lift engineer at intervals not exceeding five years with the lift carrying loads.

Lift works shall only be carried out by registered lift engineers and contractors, who shall provide lift maintenance services in accordance with the safety guidelines and requirements stipulated under the Code of Practice issued by the EMSD, the requirement of which are in line with international standard. Moreover, major safety components for lift installations are required to have test certificates issued by accredited independent testing institutes to ensure their quality. Guidelines on periodic maintenance have been provided in the Code of Practice for Lift Works and Escalator Works issued by the EMSD. As regards lifts in Government buildings, at present, their repair and maintenance are undertaken by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Trading Fund under the EMSD. The Trading Fund also arranges the relevant works according to the requirements and technical standards of the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance.

For lifts in public housing estates, although they are not covered by the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance, the Housing Department employs lift engineers and contractors registered under the Ordinance to conduct lift repair and maintenance works subject to all the requirements and standards under the Ordinance and the EMSD guidelines.

The EMSD will, through an existing working group currently headed by a Chief Engineer, consult contractors and workers' representatives on the review of the existing Code of Practice to further reinforce the safety requirements for lifts. Procedures, frequency and time for maintenance works will be specified in the Code of Practice to ensure lift safety. The working group will convene a meeting this month. To reflect the importance of the review, these meetings of the working group will be chaired by an Assistant Director of the EMSD.

(c) Section 27A of the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance requires that certain lift incidents shall be reported. After the occurrence of the prescribed lift incidents, the owner of the lift shall immediately notify the EMSD and the registered lift contractors. In general, these notifications will be made by management companies on behalf of lift owners. A "Lift Owners' Guidebook" has been published by the EMSD to remind building owners, owners' corporations and management units of their responsibility of notification of lift incidents. The EMSD will strengthen its publicity to owners, owners' corporations and management units so as to reinforce the understanding of their responsibilities. When inspecting lift installations, the EMSD will check the relevant lift maintenance log books. If EMSD discovers an incident that should be reported but has not been reported, it will investigate and follow up on the case and where appropriate, issue a warning letter to the registered lift contractor so as to urge the lift owner to notify the EMSD and the registered lift contractor of lift incidents.

For lifts in Government buildings, there is also a notification mechanism. After the occurrence of incidents, the relevant management units/contractors will notify the Electrical and Mechanical Services Trading Fund under the EMSD. The same arrangement has also been adopted for public housing estates. For lift incidents in public housing estates, the estate management office concerned will report to the Lift Ordinance Enforcement Unit of the Independent Checking Unit of the Housing Department as soon as possible if injuries or equipment failures affecting the normal operation of the lifts are involved. This arrangement is made with reference to the legislation concerned and the requirements of the EMSD.

Ends/Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:35

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