Time to elevate safety standards of HDB lifts

Doubts have arisen over the safety and reliability of HDB lifts ("Woman's hand severed in lift accident at HDB block"; Oct 10).

It is important that we elevate standards to ensure safe and reliable lift operations in Singapore.

The HDB and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) should look into these areas:

•A stringent maintenance programme should be in place for every lift, and this should be standardised among all approved lift contractors. The inspections should be done by a competent specialist, and spare parts should be made readily available. There should be audits to ensure that these requirements are met.

•The BCA has a mandatory annual testing requirement for all lifts.

This annual inspection should be conducted by an independent lift contractor instead of the current party.

•Ensure the checks cover the lifts' emergency communications systems, lights, door tracks and door safety devices.

•Educate the public via notices or pamphlets on the proper use of lifts and common safety precautions for various scenarios.

For example, forcing open and hitting the lift doors will cause electronic components to become misaligned, which is one of the causes of lift breakdowns.

•Assess older lifts to see if additional safety features available in new lifts can be installed in them.

For example, warning lights can be fitted on lifts to show when doors are closing and when it is safe to enter. Additional sensors that can sense when someone is near the lift door can also be installed.

•Use big data analytics to look at failure rates of lift parts and to conduct proactive maintenance to replace older parts - as opposed to reactive maintenance that happens after an incident.

Wong Shih Shen

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Time to elevate safety standards of HDB lifts'. Print Edition | Subscribe