Law should demand window checks, say engineers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2005, 12:00am

The government should make window inspection in buildings every seven years compulsory, an engineers' group has proposed. The call by the Institution of Engineers came after at least 28 incidents involving falling window frames this month.

These included three more yesterday, two of which involved aluminium window frames crashing down from the same public housing block in Kwai Chung.

Yesterday, institution president Greg Wong Chak-yan said that in most of the cases the windows were too old, and residents did not know regular maintenance was needed.

'When a building becomes old, many things may fall, such as window panes, frames and wall tiles,' he said.

'The government could make laws which require flat owners or owners' committees to conduct a thorough inspection of a building every seven years.

'A comprehensive check of a building is the best solution in the face of the series of accidents which involve falling aluminium windows.'

Mr Wong said people should check windows that get stuck - often an indication of loose screws or rusty hinges.

'But most users ignore these signs. They just push harder when they find it hard to open windows,' he said.

He pointed out that sometimes only the screws and hinges needed replacing, and not the entire window.

Police were called yesterday to Shing Lok House, Kwai Shing East Estate in Kwai Chung just after 10.30am, when a metre-high window fell from a kitchen on the sixth floor. The window came off after an occupant tried to open it.

As officers investigated, a window being repaired fell from the kitchen of another sixth-floor unit. No one was injured and no arrests were made.

In a separate case, a meter-high window grille fell from a unit in Wun Wah House, Lok Wah South Estate in Sau Mau Ping just before 11am. No one was hurt. Its female tenant, 79, was arrested.

Buildings director Marco Wu Moon-hoi yesterday said his department would step up efforts to educate the public about the danger. A 24-hour department hotline, 2626 1616, has been set up to answer questions.