After several China-like lift malfunction accidents here BCA swings into action

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picture credit: CNA

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said in a press release today (June 16) that its “investigations into recent lift incidents revealed that the overall standard of maintenance by lift contractors can be further improved.” To enforce this, the Government’s regulatory authority will mandate a tighter maintenance regime for lift maintenance, stricter enforcement and a new lift operation permit system.

The new measures will include introducing specific maintenance standards which will be tied to specific outcomes. These new measures will be imposed on top of the current regulatory regime for maintenance of lifts.

1The series of lift accidents has prompted BCA to mandate that the tighter regulations should kick in as early as next month. The 100 BCA registered lift contractors who service the estimated 59,000 passenger lifts in Singapore will have to adhere with the new “Permit to Operate” (PTO) system as well.

In the current system, 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 (AE). This is done on an annual basis.

The PTO will modify the current system in that while AEs will still conduct checks, the final permit will be issued by BCA before a lift can be operated. The permit will have to be displayed in the lift, and will indicate the lift contractor responsible for maintenance and the name of the AEr who inspected and certified the lift.

In 2013 when a five-year-old boy had a narrow escape as a lift in Tampines moved up with doors open because of a malfunction similar to the freak accident in China which decapitated a woman (link: http://bit.ly/1sHV3yy), Government mouthpieces were quick off the mark to claim that freak lift accidents as were happening in China were unlikely here (links: http://bit.ly/1S75Y9x and http://bit.ly/1ZU0eGk).

The BCA however swung into action after several China-like accidents involving lift malfunctions happened one after another. A wheelchair-bound old man died in one of the accidents and a cleaner fractured her spine in another.

The Building Maintenance and Strata Management Act 2004 (Act 47 of 2004) Building Maintenance and Strata management (Lift and Building Maintenance Regulations 2005) specifies that:

“a Certificate of Lift Maintenance and Testing need not be lodged with the Commissioner in respect of any lift owned by any of the following persons:
(a) the Housing and Development Board (HDB);
(b) the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC);
(c) the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA).”

It is unclear if the Act will be amended to mandate that lifts operated by HDB, JTC and LTA to be included in the PTO system.