A Hong Kong NGO advocating for the rights of industrial accident victims has called on the government to look into the death of a cleaner, whose body was found at the bottom of a lift shaft inside a building where he worked.

AIA Kowloon Tower
AIA Kowloon Tower. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

A 73-year-old cleaner was found dead in AIA Kowloon Tower in Kwun Tong on Tuesday evening, after he was suspected to have fallen from the 30th floor down a lift shaft while he was cleaning, local media reported.

According to the reports, the Fire Services Department received a call about the fall at around 6.05 p.m. and arrived at the scene around four minutes later. A total of seven fire trucks and three ambulances were deployed in the rescue operation, which lasted for around 1.5 hours.

The death on Tuesday marked the first fatal industrial accident since the Hong Kong legislature passed a bill last week to impose heavier punishments on employers who commit serious occupational safety violations. They could face a maximum penalty of a HK$10 million fine – increased from HK$500,000 – and up to two years in prison.

Fay Siu, the chief executive of Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, told HKFP on Tuesday that she had arrived at the scene earlier to offer assistance to the victim’s family but she was unable to reach them after waiting for three hours.

Fay Siu
Fay Siu. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The NGO chief said she felt “very sad” about the accident and urged the Labour Department, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department or the police to provide more information about the accident.

“We did not know what happened in this accident… I hope the Labour Department will do a very deep investigation. I hope we can treat this accident [seriously]… and punish the bodies that violate the [law],” she said.

Hong Kong recorded numerous major industrial accidents last year, with at least 13 construction worker deaths at building sites. Last September, a fatal crane collapse at a construction site in Sau Mau Ping left three dead and six injured. The labour authorities prosecuted more than 60 individuals in relation to the case last month, including the contractors and subcontractors.

Additional reporting: Candice Chau

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.