Government strives to promote occupational safety

    The Government will keep up its efforts in promoting occupational safety to ensure that a low level of industrial accidents will be maintained when construction work gathers momentum in the coming years.

    Speaking at the Construction Safety Day awards presentation ceremony today (June 26), the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said that with large-scale infrastructure projects in the pipeline and the increasing demand for maintenance and repair works arising from the ageing of urban areas, it is expected that the construction sector will grow substantially in the coming years.

    He said, ¡§We must stay vigilant and continue to do our best in maintaining our safety standards so as to prevent a rebound in the number of accidents in the construction industry.

    ¡§In fact, the performance of occupational safety in Hong Kong has improved continuously over the years,¡¨ he continued. ¡§In the past decade, the number of fatal construction accidents dropped remarkably from 56 in 1998 to 19 in 2007.  However, the slight increase to 19 cases in 2007 from 16 cases in 2006 did warrant attention.

    ¡§In 2007, the number of days lost due to industrial accidents in the construction sector was over 420,000 and compensation paid to injured employees and family members of deceased employees amounted to about $290 million. This was a heavy price to pay.¡¨

    Mr Cheung noted that the Government is committed to protecting the safety and health of workers in various trades, in particular those in high-risk industries such as the construction sector.  The Labour Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC) have been working closely in introducing practical measures to enhance safety standards.

    ¡§Last month, the Labour Department and OSHC jointly introduced the ¡¥Reversing Video Device Sponsorship Scheme for Heavy Vehicles on Construction Sites¡¦ with the Hong Kong Construction Association to provide subsidies to small and medium enterprises and self-employed persons to install the video device. It is hoped that with the device, heavy vehicle drivers will have clearer vision when reversing and thus be able to minimise the occurrence of accidents,¡¨ Mr Cheung said.

    He reiterated that it is everyone¡¦s responsibility to prevent construction accidents. The most effective way is for the industry to establish a ¡§safety management system¡¨, to implement ¡§safety work procedures¡¨and to cultivate a sense of the ¡§safety-first culture¡¨.

    In this regard, the new ¡§Safety-first Culture Award¡¨ to be handed out this year is not only to commend contractors who enhance safety management systems, but also to help foster a safety-first culture in the industry.

    Last but not least, Mr Cheung paid warm tribute to participating organisations for their commitment to occupational safety and health and praised the outstanding performance of the winning organisations.

Ends/Thursday, June 26, 2008
Issued at HKT 19:13