Electrical and Mechanical Services Department to enhance inspections to lifts in Tenants Purchase Scheme estates

In light of three consecutive lift incidents occurring in housing estates under the Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS), the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) announced today (January 13) that as regulator under the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance, the Department will enhance surprise inspections to lifts in these estates as far as resources permit with an aim to cover all the 1,448 lifts to ensure that lifts are maintained in accordance with the statutory requirements.

In view of these enhanced surprise inspections, the Department would request the relevant Registered Contractors to conduct comprehensive checks to lifts in TPS estates within one month to ensure safety of lifts under their maintenance.

In addition, EMSD and Housing Department will jointly set up a working group to explore how to further enhance the safety of lifts in TPS estates.

The EMSD's spokesman said that the Government was very concerned about the lift incidents in the past few months and had taken a series of measures to strengthen the existing regulatory framework to further enhance the safety of lifts in Hong Kong.

Firstly, with additional resources provided by the Development Bureau, EMSD has strengthened the department's lift inspection team and stepped up inspections on lifts since mid November 2008.  The level of surprise inspections had increased from the previous one-out-of-ten to one-out-of-seven, and the total number of inspections will be increased from the existing level of 4,900 to 7,000 per year.

Secondly, to enhance the monitoring of the Registered Lift Engineers' annual lift examinations, a new e-platform was launched on January 2, 2009 for the Registered Lift Contractors to report to EMSD the schedule of annual examinations to facilitate surprise inspections.

Thirdly, through an established working group with the registered contractors' associations and the workers' union, EMSD is reviewing the guidelines in the Code of Practice related to lift maintenance and safety standards, inspection frequently, routine maintenance duration, and training for lift workers, etc.  Since November 2008, the working group has held three meetings.

The spokesman said that to enhance public awareness on lift safety, the current "Lift Owners' Guidebooks" were distributed to lift owners, Incorporated Owners and building managing companies to assist them in selecting and monitoring lift contractors.  This document is also uploaded to the EMSD website together with a sample tender document for procurement of lift maintenance services for reference by lift owners and their management agents. A new TV Announcement in Public Interest will also be produced to promote safety messages to the community.

EMSD has already put in place a new mechanism to announce serious lift incidents within 12 hours after confirmation.  The Heng On Estate incident was announced to the public in accordance with this new practice.  In addition, a summary of reported lift incidents will be posted on the EMSD website by January 16, 2009 for reference by the general public, the spokesman added.

Ends/Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Issued at HKT 19:58