Jun 07, 2013

    Freak lift accidents unlikely here

    HORRIFIC incidents of lifts decapitating passengers, such as the case involving a 24-year-old nurse in China last month, are unlikely to occur here.

    This is because lifts in Singapore are fitted with sensors and mechanisms to ensure that they do not fall suddenly, endangering the lives of passengers.

    Lifts here are also controlled by a code of practice, which ensures that they are maintained regularly.

    These are the assurances given by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) and lift manufacturers, after a video of the case involving the Chinese nurse went viral online last month.

    In the incident, which was captured on closed-circuit TV footage, the nurse was decapitated after she tried to walk out of a lift that then fell suddenly.

    This was followed by a video footage that depicted another woman, also in China, being caught between lift doors while pushing out a trolley or pram.

    It is unclear what happened to the woman in this incident.

    The first video was posted on citizen-journalism website Stomp on May 27 and has since garnered more than 83,000 views.

    The second video, posted on Stomp the next day, has had more than 56,200 views.

    An 18-year veteran in the lift industry told My Paper that in the first incident in China, the lift may have been unable to clamp onto the motor shaft in order to stop.

    An oil leak could have caused this, making the machine brake lose control of the lift cage, said the veteran who did not want to be named.

    The Otis Elevator Company, a leading manufacturer of over 1.8 million lifts and escalators worldwide, told My Paper that it abides by BCA regulations.

    It added that all of its lifts undergo maintenance servicing monthly, an annual no-load test, and a full-load test every five years.

    In response to My Paper queries, BCA said all lift owners are required to lodge a Certificate of Lift Maintenance and Testing with the Commissioner of Buildings before a lift can operate.

    The certificate proves that each lift has been inspected and tested by a lift contractor, in the presence of an authorised examiner. This is done on an annual basis.

    BCA said it does not regulate lifts operated by the Housing Board, JTC Corporation and Land Transport Authority. {SEE CORRECTION ABOVE}

    An Otis spokesman said that there are multiple safety features installed in its lifts.

    One of them is an electro-mechanical safety brake designed to hold the lift in place, even during power disruptions.

    Its lifts are also installed with terminal slow-down and limit mechanisms to ensure that they reach the top and bottom floors safely.

    The effectiveness of motion sensors that lift doors are equipped with is a concern as well. The spokesman said: "All lifts have door sensors, although older models may be triggered only by physical contact.

    "There is also a safety mechanism that will prevent the lift from moving if the door is not fully closed."

    Singaporeans My Paper spoke to are confident that lifts in Singapore are safe. Marketing assistant Malcolm Leoi, 22, said: "I feel that what happened in China, while regrettable, is extremely unlikely to happen here."