Government to enhance safety regulatory control on escalators

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) is deeply concerned about a fatal accident caused by reversed operation of an escalator in a  Beijing Line 4 subway station on July 5.

The EMSD has requested the Hong Kong MTR Corporation (MTRC) to enhance inspections of all escalators in MTR stations and their associated safety devices, including the reverse protection device, to ensure their effective operations.  The EMSD also requested all registered escalator contractors to enhance the inspection of braking devices, reverse protection devices, and other safety devices of the escalators during the regular bi-weekly maintenance checks and six-month comprehensive examinations.

"All escalators in Hong Kong are designed and installed in accordance with the requirements stipulated in Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance and the Code of Practice on the Design and Construction of Lifts and Escalators. All escalators must also be maintained and examined regularly in accordance with the Ordinance and Code to ensure continuous compliance with the safety requirements so that the escalators are safe for public use," said an EMSD spokesman.

According to the EMSD's records, there was no accident due to reversed operation of escalator in the past 10 years. Among the escalator incidents in the past three years (from 2008 to present), about 96% of cases on average each year were due to a lack of safety awareness of passengers. For instance, some passengers failed to hold the handrail tightly and lost their balance, while others got their feet trapped in the escalator gaps.

A small proportion of incidents were due to equipment failure and external factors and most equipment failure resulted from defects in the handrails or steps. A recent severe escalator incident that involved equipment failure occurred at the Hong Kong Design Institute in Tseung Kwan O on February 24. The incident was caused by the lock nut and tab washer not having been properly secured in their originally designed positions, leading to dislodgement of escalator step. The incident was not related to reversed operation. The EMSD had issued the technical investigation report at its website on June 9 for public reference. As regards the external factors which caused escalator incidents, most of them were connected with foreign objects which obstructed the escalator operation.  

The number of escalator incidents and their major causes were tabulated in the attachment.

To enhance the escalator safety in MTR stations, the EMSD had previously requested MTRC to step up publicity efforts promoting the safe use of escalators.

"EMSD will continue to promote the public safety awareness on using escalators, and enhance the safety performance of escalators through enforcement work," the spokesman said.

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 21:44