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China plans escalators recall system

08-04-2011 09:25 BJT

BEIJING - Companies that produce escalators and elevators should be ordered to recall faulty models involved in accidents, according to proposals by the top quality watchdog.

The system will be the first of its kind in China if it is successfully included in the Special Equipment Safety Law, which is being drafted by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The move follows a string of accidents involving malfunctioning equipment, including one that led to the death of a 13-year-old boy in Beijing.

Industry experts contacted by China Daily welcomed the mandatory recall requirement on the national level, which will be handled by the administration's special equipment supervision bureau.

The system is more accountable to passengers than the current way of dealing with malfunctioning escalators: fixing quality faults or installation defects before putting them back into use, said Xu Ronggen, secretary-general of the Beijing Chamber of Elevator Commerce.

With official data showing that two-thirds of escalator accidents happen because of poor maintenance and management, the administration will also formulate a set contract for escalator and elevator maintenance, and make the companies or organizations using the escalators responsible for accidents as well.

Xu hopes that if businesses using escalators are also held responsible for accidents, they will employ better maintenance companies.

"Owing to cost pressures, many bid documents said 'a lower price will win the bidding'. But it's risky to employ a maintenance company offering a lower price with low-quality equipment, accessories and technicians," Xu said.

He also said a strict assessment of maintenance businesses is essential to deal with the industry chaos.

However, Peng Jinsheng, director of the expert committee of the Beijing Chamber of Elevator Commerce, warned that a recall is the last resort and urged manufacturers to do more to prevent accidents.

"Manufacturers should take responsibility to produce safe escalators for passengers," he said.

The administration ordered an investigation after Wu Shibo, 13, was killed and 30 others injured when an ascending subway escalator suddenly reversed direction at the Beijing Zoo Station on subway Line 4 on July 5.

The cause of the accident was identified as a design defect of the escalator in addition to inappropriate maintenance.

Both the ascending and descending escalators at the station's Exit A were out of operation and blocked off on Wednesday. Travelers, including families with young children, could only climb stairs.

A spokeswoman for Otis, the escalator manufacturer and maintenance company, told China Daily the company is waiting for the investigation result and will take measures accordingly.

"We will follow the advice of the quality watchdog whether to maintain or recall the escalators after the result comes out," said Li Mingjie, public affairs manager.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China Daily

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