The main contractor of Hong Kong boy band Mirror’s concerts “deliberately” understated the weight of suspended equipment – including the giant LED screen that fell and injured two dancers at the Hong Kong Coliseum – police said on Friday.
During a press conference on Friday afternoon, police said it was believed that Engineering Impact Limited purposefully made a false declarations so that it could secure a permit from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) to ensure that the series of 12 shows went ahead as scheduled.
The biggest discrepancy between the actual weight of the equipment and the declared data was more than seven times, police said.
Five people, aged 40 to 63, were arrested in the early hours on Friday. Four of them were senior staff of Engineering Impact Limited – police said they held the positions of business director, project manager and technical director. The remaining person was a senior technician for subcontractor Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company Limited.
They were arrested on suspicion of allowing objects to fall, while the Engineering Impact employees were also accused of fraud.
Weight severely understated
During the briefing, police said the understatement of the weight of the gear was so severe that they “did not believe it was an honest mistake or merely the mistaken use of the wrong measuring units.”
“The real weights of these mechanical devices were totally different from the data that were given by the company – by Engineering Impact. So we were of the view that they made false declaration deliberately, with the view to speed up the approval process for the show,” Superintendent of Police Alan Chung said.
The were a total of six LED panels suspended at the concert, and one fell and hit the head of one of the dancers. Police said each of those screens weighed 9,852 pounds, or 4,469 kilograms, but Engineering Impact declared it to be 3,600 pounds. In other words, the actual weight was 2.7 times heavier than the declared one.
Other understatements included the weight of lighting rigs, laser trusses and speakers.
|Actual weight (lb)||Declared weight (lb)||Difference|
|LED screen (each)||9,852||3,600||2.7 times|
|Laser truss||756||200||3.7 times|
Chung said the weights were only submitted to the LCSD a few days ahead of the first scheduled performance, which was on July 24.
During a government press conference hours later on Friday, Chairman of the Task Force on Investigation of Mirror Concert Incident Lee Tsz-chun said that Engineering Impact had first submitted the weights of the suspended devices it would be using in mid-July. After making some amendments to the set up, it resubmitted data in the days leading up to the shows.
“If [Engineering Impact] were to have given the LCSD the genuine data, the LCSD would not have approved because [the devices] were much heavier. [The LCSD] may have requested Engineering Impact to get an engineer to redesign the suspended installations. All this would have meant [more] time [needed to be spent],” Chung said. “For them… time is money, I believe.”
Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung said during the government press briefing that the tenants of the Hong Kong Coliseum, meaning concert organisers Music Nation, had breached the terms and conditions by providing “inaccurate information.” He said police would follow up on the suspected violations.
Yeung did not provide a direct answer to questions about the LCSD’s responsibility in verifying the information submitted by the contractors or tenants before approving designs.
“LCSD’s main responsibility in this case is [as] the owner of the venue. And being an owner of the venue, they have set out the terms and conditions of hire for the hirer to comply with,” Yeung said.
Yeung said that the hirer of the Hong Kong Coliseum was responsible for making sure any installations were safe and secure. They were also required to employ a “qualified professional” to certify that any “work or installation has been carried out properly and the installation is safe and sound,” Yeung added.
He said that such a system had been in place for a long time and in many other government projects with few issues. The government proposed having an additional independent third-party auditor to verify installations, but said that would be on a “selective basis.”
Engineering Impact and Hip Hing Loong have participated in various concerts and public events in Hong Kong and were considered the major players in the industry. Engineering Impact claims to be the largest production company in Hong Kong on its website, with over three decades of experience. It also claimed to be among the few corporations in the Greater China region that were capable of producing music tours.
When asked whether the contractor has made similar false declarations before, Chung said the police have looked into previous jobs it has done, but it was difficult to verify the declarations because devices were uninstalled soon after any shows and there was no way to go back in time.
Unreported wire issue
Police also revealed that on the day of the accident, during morning rehearsals, there were “issues” with lowering and elevating the LED monitor that fell but that were not reported.
“From the CCTV [footage] of the Hong Kong Coliseum, we found that some staff of Hip Hing Loong, the subcontractor, has adjusted the LED monitor – LED panel. After that, we do not find any evidence that he has or the company has arranged any authorised person or engineer to inspect or check the LED panel,” Chief Inspector of Police Chow Chun-choi said.
‘Dancers are employees’
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Sun at the government press conference said the dancers were considered employees, instead of self-employed. The latter is common among performing artists.
Sun said authorities came to such a conclusion after enquiring with the Department of Justice and reviewing case precedents.
The confirmation of their employment status meant the dancers were protected by employment laws.
Under the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance, the employers, that is the dance companies the dancers belong to, would be held accountable if they failed to insure the performers and report any industrial injury to the authorities within the legally-required time frame.
Under Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, the premises’ occupiers, which included the contractor and subcontractors, must bear criminal liabilities if they failed to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees.
Sun said the government would follow up on the incident according to the relevant legislations.
Correction 13/11: A previous version of this article suggested Makerville was a venue hirer – in fact, only Music Nation hired the coliseum. We apologise for the error.
Correction 17/11: Owing to an error inserted during the editing process an earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the contractor declared a weight of the LED screen 2.7 times lighter than it was. The weight of the LED screen was 2.7 times heavier than declared. We regret the error.
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