BCA engineer commended for work in ensuring lift safety

Mr Cheong Kwok Seng, an engineer, ensures that lifts, escalators and amusement rides are properly designed and maintained so that they are safe for everyone.
Mr Cheong Kwok Seng, an engineer, ensures that lifts, escalators and amusement rides are properly designed and maintained so that they are safe for everyone.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

SINGAPORE - Do not be alarmed the next time your lift stops on the wrong floor.

It could actually have been a safety device that has kicked in as a precautionary measure, rather than a case of a lift malfunctioning.

That was one piece of advice from Building and Construction Authority (BCA) engineer Mr Cheong Kwok Seng, 55, one of the public officers working quietly behind the scenes on lift, escalator and amusement ride safety.

On Tuesday (Oct 25), the principal associate engineer with the BCA's electrical and mechanical engineering department was awarded a Commendation Medal at the Ministry of National Development (MND) National Day Awards Investiture 2016, for his role in ensuring the safety of lifts, escalators and amusement rides.

This year, 191 officers from the MND and its family of agencies received National Day Awards. Among them are Mr Koh Soo Keong, who has served on the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) board for 14 years, and Mr Goh Wee Hou, deputy director of the infrastructure division at MND. Mr Koh was awarded the Public Service Star, while Mr Goh received a Public Administration Medal (Bronze).

Public scrutiny on lift safety has intensified in recent months on the back of reports on several lift accidents. Mr Cheong, who has been with the BCA for 16 years and conducts inspections on both public and privately-owned lifts, said that while technicians and engineers will "try to achieve whatever we can technically" to ensure lift safety, at times, public perceptions could be misplaced.

In addition to a lift being programmed to stop at the next available floor, there are also other signs that a safety device has kicked in, such as when a lift suddenly stops in between floors.

"When that happens and a person is trapped in a lift, people will think that it is unsafe for them and some may even try to pry open the doors. But it's actually safest to stay inside the lift," he said.

There are various triggers for these safety measures, such as if sand or other objects left behind by contractors are not removed from the lift, preventing it from closing fully, he added.

Despite the challenges,the most rewarding part of his job is seeing people use lifts and escalators safely. "These are devices that my own family members also have to use every day."