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Industrial safety in relation to lift shafts


Date of Meeting: 7 March 2001

Asked by : Ir. Dr. Hon. HO Chung-tai

Replied by : SEM

Question :

In December last year, a worker died after falling down a lift shaft in a building under construction. Regarding industrial safety in relation to lift shafts, will the Government inform this Council:

  1. of the respective numbers of industrial accidents in which workers fell down lift shafts and deaths resulting from such accidents in the past three years;
  2. whether legislation is in place to regulate the safety of workers working on site near lift shafts; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
  3. of the duties in this respect of the safety officers employed by principal contractors?


Madam President,

a. During the 3-year period from 1998 to 2000, the Labour Department recorded one fatal accident involving fall of a person into the lift shaft of the building under construction and another 7 fatal accidents involving fall of persons into the hoistways of material hoists. In the accident referred to in the Question of the Hon. HO Chung-tai, the worker died after falling into the hoistway of a material hoist. The breakdown of the eight fatal accidents is given below :

Number of fatal accidents

  1998 1999 2000 (provisional*) Total
Fall into lift shafts of building under construction 1 - - 1
Fall into hoist-ways of material hoist 4 1 2 7

Note : The accident statistics for 2000 are provisional as some of the accidents that occurred towards the end of the year may not have been reported to the Labour Department yet.

However, for non-fatal accidents the Labour Department does not have separate breakdowns for accidents involving fall into lift shafts or hoistways of material hoist.
b. Safety at work on construction sites, including working at height, is mainly regulated by the Construction Sites (Safety) Regulations (CSSR) made under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59). Regulation 38A of the CSSR provides that the contractor responsible for a construction site shall ensure that every place on the site is, so far as reasonably practicable, made and kept safe for any person working there. Regulation 38B further requires the contractor to take adequate steps to prevent any person on the site from falling from a height of 2 metres or more. In the context of working inside or near lift shafts or the hoistways of material hoists, "adequate steps" include the provision, use and maintenance of :-
  1. proper working platforms;
  2. suitable guard-rails, barriers, toe-boards, gates and fences; and
  3. coverings for openings.
If it is impracticable to comply with the above requirements, the contractor should provide his workers with suitable and adequate safety nets and safety belts. The CSSR also requires the contractor to take all reasonable steps to ensure the proper use of the safety belts by the persons to whom they are provided. Furthermore, every person working on a construction site who has been provided with a safety belt should wear it and keep it attached to a secure anchorage whenever the use of the belt is necessary for his own or any other person's safety.
In addition, the Commissioner for Labour issued a "Code of Practice for Safety at Work (Lift and Escalator)" in October 1997 under Section 7A(1) of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance, (Cap. 59). This Code of Practice focuses on workers' safety and recommends safe practices for proprietors and contractors, and their employees engaged in lift and escalator works. Although failure to observe any provision of the Code of Practice is not itself an offence, that failure may be taken by a court in criminal proceedings as a relevant factor in determining whether a person has breached the relevant safety and health legislation.
c. The duties of a safety officer are set out in Regulation 15 of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Officers and Safety Supervisors) Regulations (extract is at Annex). Basically, a safety officer has to assist the contractor of a construction site in promoting the safety and health of persons employed therein including those working inside or near lift shafts or the hoistways of material hoists. Among other things, he has to
  1. advise the contractor of the appropriate measures to be taken to prevent persons from falling from height and, with the approval of the contractor, implement such measures;
  2. inspect the site, or direct a safety supervisor to inspect the site for the purpose of determining whether any work carried on inside or near lift shafts or the hoistways of material hoists is of such a nature as to be liable to cause risk of bodily injury to any person employed on the site;
  3. report the findings of any inspection carried out under item (ii) to the contractor and recommend what measures, if any, ought to be taken as a result of that inspection;
  4. advise the contractor, in the interest of the safety and health of persons employed in the site, of any repairs or maintenance that ought to be carried out in respect of such work inside or near lift shafts or the hoistways of material hoists.

Last revision date: 07 March 2001
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