Technical investigation report of lift incident released (with photos)

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) has today (December 5) released a technical investigation report on the lift incident which occurred at Shin Nga House, Fu Shin Estate, Tai Po on October 25.

It was reported that all the eight suspension ropes of the lift were tested for tensile strength at the Public Works Central Laboratory. The test results showed that the tensile strength of all the suspension ropes complied with the manufacturer's technical specification and in line with the requirements of international standards.

EMSD also engaged the City University of Hong Kong to investigate the seven sets of broken suspension ropes. The examination revealed that the fracture surfaces generally had the characteristics of overstressing tensile failure. The test results indicated that the quality of the lift's suspension ropes complied with the lift's safe operational requirement.

The incident was a result of the failure of the counterweight pulley bearing, which caused the dislodgement of all eight suspension ropes from the counterweight.  Without the balance of the counterweight, the lift car started descending and gaining momentum. The activation of the safety gear at the lift car slowed down the lift. Under the Code of Practices, Registered Lift Contractor and the Registered Lift Engineer must inspect the key components during routine maintenance and periodic examination of the lift. In normal circumstances, similar lift incidents should not happen.

To prevent recurrence of a similar incident, the report recommended that  Registered Lift Contractors and Registered Lift Engineers, during routine maintenance and periodic examination of the lift, should strictly follow the manufacturers' recommendations and the technical requirements for the maintenance of lift components as stipulated in the Code of Practices, and ensure that key components are in good working condition.

Speaking at a media briefing, the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services, Mr Ho Kwong-wai, said EMSD had also begun further investigation under the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance to find out whether there was any person or party liable under the ordinance.  If there was sufficient evidence showing that persons/parties had committed an offence, EMSD would initiate prosecution. As there may be legal action resulting from this investigation, EMSD cannot disclose or comment on the legal liability of the incident. The department will expedite further necessary investigation.

EMSD is very concerned about lift safety. After the October 25 incident, EMSD, in association with Housing Department, inspected 517 similar Kone lifts in Hong Kong to ensure public safety.  The inspection was completed on November 14, and all the lifts were found to be safe.

Mr Ho said although statistics revealed no increasing trend of lift incidents in recent years, the Government considered it necessary to review and enhance current regulatory arrangements as needed.  He said EMSD had decided to adopt a multi-pronged approach to enhance the existing regulatory framework on lift safety in Hong Kong:

(1) To strengthen safety requirements for lift maintenance, EMSD is consulting the lift contractors and worker representatives through an established working group to review and enhance the existing Codes of Practice.

(2) EMSD will enhance public awareness on lift safety, in particular the knowledge of owners' corporations or owners' committees about lift maintenance and procurement of lift maintenance services.  The content of the leaflet on lift safety will be improved to enhance publicity in this regard.  To facilitate building owners and management agencies to properly procure lift maintenance service, the EMSD has compiled a sample tender document with the requisite scope and specification for such service. The sample tender document has been posted on EMSD's website

(3) EMSD has, since mid-November, stepped up its audit inspections and spot checks of lifts in private buildings and increased the proportion of audit checks from one out of 10 to one out of seven.
Since lift safety is an issue of public concern, EMSD has undertaken that, for serious lift incidents, the department will make public announcement within 12 hours of confirmation of the incident.  Serious incidents include those involving:

(1) fatalities or serious injuries; or
(2) breakage of suspension ropes, failure of motor brakes, overspeed governors or safety gears.

The report has been uploaded to EMSD's website for the public information.

Ends/Friday, December 5, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:25


Damaged counterweight pulley bearing. I-beam of lift motor was deformed. Damaged lift overspeed governor. Scratch marks are found on the safety gear.