Ang Mo Kio lift accident 'likely due to brake issue'

The BCA said Ang Mo Kio Town Council's lift contractor has completed the "required rectification works" on the lift at Block 317, Ang Mo Kio Street 31, which include replacing the brake liner and cleaning the brake drum. The lift was certified safe f
The BCA said Ang Mo Kio Town Council's lift contractor has completed the "required rectification works" on the lift at Block 317, Ang Mo Kio Street 31, which include replacing the brake liner and cleaning the brake drum. The lift was certified safe for use and resumed operation on Monday.ST PHOTO: MARCUS TAN

Brakes of Ang Mo Kio lift could not hold lift car in stationary position: Examiner

The lift in Ang Mo Kio that suddenly shot up 17 storeys earlier this month probably had brakes that were not working properly, investigations have found.

The examiner appointed by Ang Mo Kio Town Council to inspect the lift concluded that it was likely that the brakes were "not functioning well", the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said yesterday. The BCA will investigate if its lift safety regulations were contravened in this case, and take enforcement action where appropriate, it said.

On March 7, maid Evi Lisnawati, 36, was in the lift at Block 317, Ang Mo Kio Street 31, when it shot up 17 storeys suddenly. She fell and hurt her buttocks.

The lift then stalled, trapping her for more than an hour.

The Fujitec lift was suspended from use while investigations were carried out by an authorised examiner appointed by the town council.

 
 

The examiner's report, submitted to the BCA last Thursday, said the accident occurred because the brakes could not hold the lift car in a stationary position. The examiner added that this could have been due to the "jammed mechanical parts of the brakes, oily brake drum and worn-off brake liners".

The BCA said its independent inspections concur with the examiner's findings.

It added that Ang Mo Kio Town Council's lift contractor, also Fujitec, has since completed the "required rectification works", which included replacing the brake liner and cleaning the brake drum - parts of the lift's braking system.

The lift was certified safe for use and resumed operation on Monday.

Ang Mo Kio Town Council's general manager, Mr Victor Wong, told The Straits Times that since the incident, his team has checked all 2,210 Housing Board lifts in the town.

All of them, including their brakes, are in good condition, he said, adding that the town council will conduct more random audits on the maintenance sessions done by lift contractors.

A town council spokesman said it will follow the examiner's recommendation to engage an authorised examiner to conduct brake tests on the lift in the Ang Mo Kio incident every quarter this year to verify that the brakes work normally.

This is over and above the brake test that the lift contractor is required to do during the monthly lift maintenance, said the BCA.

Lift engineer Leong Shee Kok, 63, said brakes are among the most common parts to be checked during regular maintenance. "It is standard, just as you would check the brakes in a car," he said. "If the drum is oily or the lining worn out, the brake efficiency will be greatly reduced."

Lift owners, including town councils, are required by law to engage registered lift contractors to maintain their lifts. "Lift contractors should do so with due diligence," the BCA said, adding that it takes a serious view of non-compliance with its safety regulations.

Before the incident, the problem lift in Ang Mo Kio, which is 23 years old, was last maintained on Feb 23.

Some residents in the block are still shaken by the incident. Ms Evi, for instance, avoids taking the lift whenever possible. "If I am alone I take the stairs. I am still so scared," said the Indonesian, who lives with her employers on the fifth floor.

A housewife in her 50s, who wanted to be known only as Madam Yeo, said: "I would feel safer if they replace the whole lift."

Along with other recent HDB lift mishaps, the Ang Mo Kio incident prompted the BCA to ramp up its lift audits across Singapore. It added that its ongoing review on lift regulations, to be completed this year, will come with legislative changes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Lift accident 'likely due to brake issue''. Print Edition | Subscribe