LCQ7: Lifts and Escalators OrdinanceFollowing is a question by the Dr Hon Lo Wai-kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (January 23):
The Lifts and Escalators Ordinance (the Ordinance) (Cap. 618) has come into full operation since December 17, 2012. Regarding the measures to complement the implementation of the Ordinance, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether the authorities have established a communication mechanism with the relevant professional bodies in the trade and taken concrete complementary measures (such as providing suitable incentives) to encourage practitioners in the trade (including registered engineers and registered workers) to pursue continuing education, so as to enable them to meet the professional qualifications and registration requirements as well as the contractors to meet the registration renewal requirements stipulated in the Ordinance; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) as there have been comments that the lift and escalator practitioners face adverse working environment, unsatisfactory remuneration packages etc., which has led to a brain drain, and the contractors also face various difficulties in their businesses (e.g. price competition, difficulties in quality assurance, etc.), of the measures taken by the authorities to attract more new blood to join the trade; whether they have conducted any studies on the business difficulties faced by the trade and provided them with appropriate support; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) whether the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, being the enforcement agency of the Ordinance, has allocated the resources needed and employed additional professional staff to discharge its monitoring duties; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Lifts and Escalators Ordinance (the Ordinance), enacted in April 2012, aims at further enhancing lift and escalator safety in Hong Kong. The Ordinance introduces a series of enhanced regulatory control measures, including strengthening the registration regime for personnel engaged in lift and escalator works; increasing the penalty levels of offences; extending the coverage of the legislation; and enhancing operational efficiency and enforcement effectiveness. We anticipate that the safety level of lifts and escalators in Hong Kong could be further enhanced after the main provisions of the Ordinance came into full operation in mid-December 2012.
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Since the bill drafting stage, the Administration has discussed the bill-related issues including driving practitioners' continuous studies and the renewal requirements for registered contractors, with stakeholders, such as relevant trade unions, trade associations, professional bodies and training organisations through the Task Force for Legislative Amendments to Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance (the Task Force) established by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) in August 2010.
To assist practitioners, including registered engineers and registered workers, to comply with the training requirements for registration and registration renewal, EMSD has been introducing measures to encourage them to pursue continuous studies from time to time. These measures include the collaboration with stakeholders, such as the Vocational Training Council (VTC), the Lift and Escalator Contractors' Association, and the International Association of Elevator Engineers (HK-China Branch), in organising free training that can meet the requirements for registration and registration renewal. Besides, EMSD stipulates in its Code of Practice for Lift Works and Escalator Works (the CoP) that registered contractors shall provide adequate training to their workers so that they can carry out works properly and in a safe manner. Such in-house training can also help workers meet the requirements for registration and registration renewal. EMSD also actively encourages registered contractors to organise graduate training schemes accredited by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers to help practitioners obtain the professional qualification for meeting the registration requirements for engineers.
On the other hand, EMSD has issued clear guidelines for engineers and workers on the contents and mode of training required for registration and registration renewal in order to facilitate their selection of appropriate training. In addition, EMSD has issued clear guidelines for contractors on registration renewal requirements, such as the facilities required, to facilitate their compliance. Besides, EMSD will give timely notifications to registered personnel before expiry of their registration to enable them to have sufficient time to comply with the requirements for registration renewal.
(b) We always keep abreast of the operating conditions of the lift and escalator industry through the Task Force and other channels. The implementation of the Ordinance will facilitate the long term and sustainable healthy development of the industry, improve its business environment and attract new entrants to the trade.
The Ordinance steps up the regulatory control measures against registered contractors. The measures include raising the penalty levels for offences, introducing a registration renewal regime for contractors, and tightening approval requirements for safety components. These measures lead to enhancement of the quality of registered contractors. On the other hand, through issuing guidelines and organising seminars, EMSD educates property owners and property management companies that, apart from cost, they should also consider factors like contractor's manpower and past performance in selecting contractors to maintain their lifts and escalators in a safe operation state. EMSD also publishes the performance ratings of registered contractors regularly to help property owners and property management companies make informed choices when selecting their registered contractors. The above measures can help registered contractors to undertake works contracts at reasonable prices thereby improving their business operating environment. The industry will in turn be better placed to ensure quality service and to invest in manpower.
Furthermore, we can attract more new recruits through enhancing the professional status of practitioners, improving their working conditions and strengthening training.
The Ordinance enhances the professional status of practitioners by raising the qualification requirements for registration as a registered engineer and introducing a registration regime for workers. Replacement of the employment-tied arrangement by the workers' registration regime also provides workers with greater flexibility in choosing jobs and higher bargaining power in negotiating remuneration packages.
On improving working conditions, EMSD has been from time to time working with the industry and in the light of the latest developments in the industry to review and update the CoP to raise the requirements on the working conditions. For instance, a new provision has recently been introduced requiring contractors to assess and confirm that the environmental factors, such as temperature, ventilation, lightings, etc., inside the lift shaft are suitable before commencing works.
The graduate training schemes mentioned above can attract graduates with relevant engineering degrees to join the ranks of registered engineers in the industry. VTC has also been organising relevant apprentice courses to train new entrants for the industry over the years. Currently, the Construction Industry Council is working with the related trade associations in pursuing the Contractor Cooperative Training Scheme. The trade is also planning to collaborate with the Employees Retraining Board and VTC to organise a Certificate Course for Assistant Lift and Escalator Mechanics to attract new entrants to the industry.
(c) To enhance the regulation of escalator and lift safety, approval was granted in 2010 for EMSD to expand its establishment by creating one engineer, one senior inspector and six inspectors posts. With the full implementation of the Ordinance, EMSD will continue to use its current resources to conduct risk assessments on a random basis and strictly enforce the Ordinance. The Administration will from time to time review EMSD's manpower to ensure that appropriate resources are allocated for law enforcement and public education.
Ends/Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:36