HK hotel owners’ group urges members to step up safety checks after falling window kills woman

23-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A Hong Kong hotel owners’ association has urged members to step up safety checks after a mainland Chinese tourist was on Monday killed by a window falling from the 16th floor of a building.

A veteran surveyor warned that windows requiring a special key to open had a higher chance of being faulty if they had been locked for too long. A police source said the window in the fatal incident was similar in design.

Michael Li Hon-shing, executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, which represents 90 per cent, or around 200 of the city’s hotels, expressed shock over the “unfortunate” incident.

But he said he believed it was an isolated case as hotels must carry out window inspections regularly according to the Buildings Ordinance.

“I will still write to all members on Tuesday to remind them to step up inspections and check windows and frames, in light of the accident,” Li said.

Shortly before 10.30am on Monday, a 24-year-old mainland Chinese woman was walking along Nathan Road in the busy shopping district of Tsim Sha Tsui when she was struck outside The Mira Hong Kong.

Police said the window, which fell from a room on the hotel’s 16th floor, measured 144cm by 30cm in size.

The victim’s boyfriend, 36, who was with her at the time, was slightly hurt by glass fragments.

Police arrested a female cleaner, 39, saying the window fell out when she opened it.

Asked about window maintenance, Li said engineering teams in member hotels would perform regular checks to see whether repairs were needed, on top of adhering to regulations in place.

“Hotels also normally conduct small repair works every three to five years, and large ones every eight to 10 years,” he added. “This means the hotels would close a few storeys each time for the renovations.”

If somebody pushed the window too hard, it could fall off… There have been such cases before

Vincent Ho, former Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors president

According to the Buildings Department, owners of buildings aged 10 years or more, and who are served statutory notices, are required to appoint a qualified person to carry out inspections and supervise repair works if required.

After the first notice is issued, window inspections should be done regularly every five years.

A department spokesman did not say whether it had issued any inspection orders to The Mira.

The hotel underwent a major renovation, which was completed in 2009. A police source said the renovation included window replacement.

A hotel spokeswoman declined to disclose whether all its windows had been replaced, or which contractor carried out the work, citing ongoing investigations by authorities.

A police source had said the fallen window was a two-layer design which had to be unlocked with a special key.

Vincent Ho Kui-yip, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, said property owners and window examiners should be aware of the risks of such windows, especially if they had remained locked for prolonged periods.

Ho explained that points on the window frame could have aged or rusted if they had not been in use for a long time, and rubber linings could become stuck.

“If somebody pushed the window too hard, it could fall off,” he said. “There have been such cases before.”

Ho added the department was not able to issue window inspection orders to all buildings aged 10 years or older in the city, because the number of such structures was overwhelmingly large for the industry.

He urged the department to increase resources to enhance survey work, and for property owners to inspect their windows even without orders, if any of the designs showed signs of ageing.

“Even if you haven’t received an official order, it doesn’t mean your windows are safe,” he said.

The Mira, which is under Henderson Land Development, reopened in September 2009 with a star-studded event. American singer Katy Perry performed in the hotel’s ballroom on the 18th floor, according to media reports.


Category: Hong Kong

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