Most lifts, escalators are not up to snuff

Top News | Sophie Hui 17 Apr 2020

Most lifts and escalators do not meet the government's latest safety standards, sparking an investigation by the Ombudsman into its regulatory work.

As of the end of 2017, the Ombudsman said 80 percent of Hong Kong's 66,000 lifts and 90 percent of 9,300 escalators did not have components that met standards set by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department installed.

Additionally, more than 21,000 lifts and escalators are at least 30 years old.

"In Hong Kong, high-rise buildings are everywhere and lifts and escalators are frequently used in our daily lives," said Ombudsman Winnie Chiu Wai-yin. "Periodic examinations and proper maintenance to ensure their safe operation are of paramount importance,"

She added: "Serious accidents involving lifts and escalators in recent years have aroused public concern about the adequacy of the government's current regulatory measures. Our office, therefore, initiated this investigation to probe into the issue and identify areas for improvement."

The probe came amid a number of lift accidents.

Eighteen people were injured when a 45-meter long escalator suddenly ran backward in the popular Langham Place mall in March 2017.

In May 2018, a woman died after falling into the lift shaft in Paris Court of Sheung Shui Town Centre. A month before, a couple were critically injured when the lift shot up and hit the top floor of the 46-story Waterside Plaza in Tsuen Wan.

The watchdog has also received complaints related to the repair and maintenance of lifts over the past year.

The Ombudsman invited the public to send information or views to her office by May 16, and said all new lifts and escalators and their safety components must satisfy prevailing safety standards prescribed by the department at the time of installation.

Advancements allow new components to be added to lifts and escalators to improve safety, and their safe operation depends on regular and proper maintenance and repair, it said.

The watchdog said the investigation will cover requirements under the Lifts and Escalators Ordinance regarding the maintenance and examination of lifts and escalators, the adequacy of the department's monitoring mechanism for the maintenance and examination of lifts and escalators, the effectiveness of its regulation of registered contractors and relevant technicians and areas for improvement.

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