The government will carry out a two-week inspection of all large sliding gates on government property after the horrific death of a security guard at a maternity clinic entrance.
According to police, a heavy sliding car-park gate collapsed onto Ms Ngai, 43, at the Yau Ma Tei Maternal and Child Health Centre (MCH) at around 6pm on Monday afternoon. Ngai died in hospital about six hours later.
The death echoes an identical disaster at The Boxes Mall in Yuen Long in August 2019 where a missing stopper was found to allow the gate to be slid too far from its housing when it collapsed on a security guard, killing her.
After the fatal Yuen Long incident in 2019, Labour Department (LD) issued advice for all sliding gate owners to install a second stopper at the top of the gate, in case the first stopper should fail.
But an investigation by Transit Jam today showed there appeared to be not even one stopper on the top of the Yau Ma Tei MCH clinic gate, indicating that perhaps the gate was pulled beyond its housing and then collapsed, with the Department of Health installation ignoring basic safety rules and the additional advice from LD after the 2019 fatality.
Yesterday, the government ordered all similar gates on government premises to be inspected by the Architectural Services Department (ASD) and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), focusing on structures with “a manual mode, to ensure that they can be safely operated manually, so as to prevent recurrence of similar accidents.”
Other departments have been ordered to inspect their gates while property management companies are also urged to carry out inspections “to ensure these gates are safe to be operated manually”. An LD spokeswoman could not estimate how many gates were involved. “You will need to check with the relevant departments,” she said.
A mum visiting the Yau Ma Tei clinic for her baby’s jabs today said she usually arrived by taxi and that the gates were usually wide open. The tragedy raises the issue of why the MCH clinic has such large gates in the first place, with only three car parking spaces within the grounds, of which two are reserved for senior staff.
Today, the heavy gate, with two small rail-wheels, is still lying across the yard outside the MCH, with the railings bent out of shape where it impacted the guard and a guard vest and bloodstain still on the scene.
In a statement last night, officials also reminded private gate owners to follow codes of practice for installation of electrically-operated sliding gates, and ensure the installations are in good working order. “The owner has the responsibility to ensure the safe installation and operation of the electric gate,” said a government spokesman.
The Labour Department’s 430-word press release is word-for-word identical – apart from the date and location – to that issued after a similar death at The Boxes Mall in Yuen Long in August 2019. In both cases, Labour Department said it was “highly concerned” and would conduct a “complete investigation”.
In the Yuen Long case, the two management companies involved with the faulty gate were fined a total of $110,000 for the breaches that led to the death.
Hong Kong remains one of the most dangerous places to work in the developed world. Five workers died every week in 2021 according to the Labour Department (LD), with a total of 263 deaths and 30,448 injuries that year. LD does not categorise worker injuries beyond “fatal and non-fatal” according to a spokeswoman, with no figures available for serious injuries.
Department of Health has been contacted for comment.