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LCQ18: Manpower situation of lift and escalator workers

Following is a question by the Hon Ip Wai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):

Question:

Accidents involving lifts have occurred from time to time in recent years and some members of the industry have reflected that these accidents are connected with the manpower engaged in lift works and escalator works. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the latest numbers of lifts and escalators in Hong Kong and the respective increase in the numbers of lifts and escalators in each of the past three years;

(b) of the respective numbers of competent lift and escalator engineers and lift and escalator workers in Hong Kong at present; whether it knows their respective duties; and whether the authorities have complied statistics on the number of those among such persons who are actually engaged in maintenance and repair works of lifts and escalators at present; if the authorities do not keep records of the relevant statistics, whether they will consider keeping records of such statistics in future;

(c) given that some lift and escalator practitioners have reflected to me that when they carried out the maintenance and repair works of lifts and escalators, the manpower did not meet that required by the Codes of Practice, whether the Government had received such complaints in the past three years; if it had, of the respective numbers of complaints it had received each year and the follow-up actions taken; and

(d) given that the bodies representing lift and escalator practitioners have indicated that the industry is faced with the problem of the lack of new practitioners joining the industry in recent years, whether it knows the respective numbers of lift and escalator engineers and lift and escalator workers aged 20 or below, aged between 21 and 30 and between 31 and 40 who had joined the industry in the past three years; whether the authorities have considered taking any measure to attract people to join the industry as lift and escalator practitioners; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

In Hong Kong, lifts and escalators are regulated by the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance (Chapter 327) (the existing Ordinance). Under the existing Ordinance, examination and safety certification of lifts and escalators must be carried out by registered lift engineers and registered escalator engineers respectively. It also stipulates that only competent lift workers and competent escalator workers meeting the employment requirements are authorised to carry out relevant works independently. The Code of Practice for Lift Works and Escalator Works (CoP) established under the existing Ordinance provides practical guidelines on the carrying out of lift and escalator works, including guidelines for compliance by registered contractors in respect of manpower arrangement.  To strengthen the regulatory control over lift and escalator safety, we submitted the Lifts and Escalators Bill (the Bill) to the Legislative Council on May 11, 2011. Amid other improvement measures, the Bill uplifts the qualification requirements for registration as lift and escalator engineers and introduces a registration system for lift and escalator workers. Following the introduction of the Bill, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) and trade representatives have been reviewing the existing CoP, including evaluating the manpower requirement for carrying out maintenance and repair works by registered contractors.

My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) At present, there are about 58 000 lifts and 8 000 escalators in Hong Kong. In the past three years, the numbers, on average, increased by about 780 and 170 respectively each year.

(b) At present, there are 277 registered engineers and 4 950 competent workers who are engaged in lift and escalator works in Hong Kong. The main duty of a registered engineer is to examine and certify whether a lift or an escalator is in safe working order. As for competent workers, they are mainly responsible for carrying out various kinds of lift and escalator works, including installation, maintenance and repair works, for which they are qualified. In the past year, 188 registered engineers (68% of the total) conducted periodic examination and issued safety certificates for lifts or escalators. According to information provided by registered contractors, there are about 4 790 competent workers (97% of the total) engaged in the repair and maintenance works for lifts or escalators.

(c) The existing CoP expressly stipulates that registered lift contractors must assign at least two lift workers for carrying out 10 types of lift works. While EMSD has not received any complaint about breaching of the above mentioned stipulation by registered contractors, there is a labour union of the trade relaying to the Administration the concern of workers on relevant guidelines in the CoP. In this connection, EMSD has issued a circular to registered lift contractors reminding them to strictly comply with the CoP guidelines. EMSD will continue to conduct inspections and monitoring to ensure that the registered contractors would comply with the CoP guidelines.

(d) Of the 35 persons who have registered as lift or escalator engineers over the past three years, 23 (65% of the total) are between 31 and 40 years old while the remaining 12 (35% of the total) are aged 41 or above. Regarding workers, there are 1 793 persons who have become competent workers over the past three years. EMSD does not keep record on the age profiles of competent workers before 2010. According to information provided by registered contractors, among the 625 persons who became competent workers in 2010, 122 (20% of the total) are aged 30 or below, 276 (44% of the total) are between 31 and 40 years old, and the remaining 227 (36% of the total) are aged 41 or above.

For ensuring sufficient manpower could be deployed in the trade to provide services, we will continue to collaborate with other major stakeholders to monitor the manpower situation in the industry and take appropriate measures, such as enhancing manpower training and publicity, to address the manpower demand when necessary. Regarding the overall manpower situation of the construction industry, the Development Bureau has launched a series of "Build Up" publicity programme in May, including "Announcements of Public Interest" broadcasts on television, newspaper and bus advertising, a dedicated web site and large-scale outdoor advertisements. We trust that these measures would lift the image of the construction industry and attract new entrants to the industry.

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:53

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