Upcoming performances at government-managed venues in Hong Kong will have to temporarily stop the use of suspended mechanical devices involving swinging, rotation or carrying of people starting today (Aug. 2).
This comes after two dancers were injured last week after a huge video screen fell on the middle of the stage in the Hong Kong Coliseum during a concert by boy band Mirror. One of them is still reportedly in critical condition, but his vital signs are stable.
An initial government probe found that the horrific accident was caused by the snapping of a steel cable that was holding up the video screen.
A task force led by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to identify the causes of the accident held its first meeting and an on-site investigation on Monday in the Coliseum. It is expected to deliver some preliminary findings in one to two weeks’ time.
Besides the ban on the use of suspended mechanical devices, the department has also implemented other short-term measures at its performance venues starting today to ensure the safety of performers and staff members before the completion of the investigation report, according to a government statement released late on Monday.
Hirers are required to revisit and enhance the safety of their stage designs and brought-in mechanical devices to ensure the safety of all working staff, performers and audience members at the venue.
They must also have a competent person, approved by the department, conduct daily inspection of these devices.
The department will send letters to hirers who have booked its venues for any dates before the end of September to explain the short-term measures and remind them to observe relevant regulations and safety guidelines on stage safety.
Responding to media queries in another statement released early today, a spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department stressed that these are stopgap measures that would only be applicable to performance venues overseen by the department.
He added that the department had already contacted major hirers who have booked its venues before the end of September before the announcement of the measures to explain them.
“In fact, most of the performances under the [department’s] performing venues in these two months will not be affected,” the statement reads.
The spokesman also responded to allegations that the use of moving lights, mirror balls and projectors at the venues will not meet the new requirements, saying that this is a misunderstanding and these kinds of installations can continue to be used.
“The so-called ‘brought-in mechanical devices’ refer to facilities that are not provided by the venues and those are more complicated installations, which require the approval of registered professionals. Ordinary mechanical devices will not fall within this scope and do not require checks by competent persons,” the statement reads.
On the requirement on hirers to conduct daily inspection of the mechanical devices by a competent person whom the department agrees to, the spokesman explained that these competent people refer to those trained with actual experience commissioned by the hirers with the consent of the department.
“Most of the arts groups can arrange qualified stage working staff and registered professional engineers are not required,” the statement reads.
The task force is led by Lee Tsz-chun, an assistant director of the department, with members comprising representatives from the Labour Department, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department as well as Louis Szeto, a representative from the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers invited by the task force. Police representatives also attended the meeting to give advice on evidence collection. Expert Eric Lim was also engaged by the task force to help with the study of the causes of the incident.