Protect air-con technicians working at HDB blocks

Maids are not the only ones facing safety hazards when working on the facade of buildings (Maids seen doing work, balanced on scaffolding; Oct 28).

Technicians who install air-conditioner condensing units on the exterior of old HDB blocks are required to climb out of the window, perch themselves on the narrow ledge and hang onto the external wall.

They are supported only by stainless steel brackets. There is nowhere for them to securely attach a safety harness. I shudder to think of the risks they take.

The HDB has a video on installing and maintaining air-cons. But it covers only window-unit air-cons and not split-unit air-con systems, which have become more popular, especially in HDB flats.

The video should be updated to keep pace with changes and show how to safely install and maintain split-unit air-cons in flats that do not have an air-con ledge.

It is not cost effective to put up scaffolding or use gondolas or boom lifts for these tasks.

Permanent anchors, lifelines for fall restraint, fall arrest systems and railings provide safe and economical solutions for fall protection.

With these, workmen can work confidently, efficiently and safely on the exterior of HDB blocks.

Contractors should make sure that people with sufficient skills, knowledge and experience are employed to perform such tasks, and that they wear the appropriate fall protection equipment.

The HDB also has a responsibility. I hope it will act and implement fall prevention measures for flats which do not have air-con ledges.

Loong Chik Tong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2017, with the headline 'Protect air-con technicians working at HDB blocks'. Print Edition | Subscribe