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Labour Department formulates measures and steps up inspections to promote work safety of construction industry

     With the expected vibrant development of the construction industry in Hong Kong, the Commissioner for Labour, Mr Donald Tong, expressed concern over the challenges to work safety in the industry. The Labour Department (LD) has formulated corresponding measures to safeguard the occupational safety of construction site workers and called on stakeholders to keep up the efforts in further enhancing the occupational safety and health standards in the construction industry.

     Speaking at the Construction Industry Safety Award Scheme Award Presentation Ceremony cum Fun Day today (March 22), Mr Tong said that with the commencement of mega works projects and a large number of maintenance projects for old buildings, together with the anticipation of the continuous construction boom, employment opportunities in the construction industry have increased remarkably in recent years. The number of construction site workers has increased from over 50 000 in 2010 to over 80 000 in 2014.

     "The LD has formulated a set of counter measures, including  stepping up inspections and monitoring efforts, controlling work hazards at source, tackling systemic risks, launching sponsorship schemes and strengthening publicity and training, to safeguard the occupational safety of workers," Mr Tong said.

     "Apart from conducting over 50 000 regular inspections to construction sites each year, the LD also launched special enforcement operations targeting high-risk processes, such as working at height, electrical work, tunnelling works, lifting operations, working on falsework and marine construction works."

     Last year, the LD issued 500 suspension notices and 716 improvement notices in the special enforcement operations. The number increased by about 44 per cent and 21 per cent respectively compared to 2013. Over the same period, the number of prosecutions initiated by the LD also rose by 14 per cent to 745.

     "The LD will continue to carry out special enforcement operations to deter work practices contravening work safety requirements," Mr Tong said.

     He also added that the LD would step up liaison with major works project proponents, urge the contractors concerned to strengthen the safety management system, safety audits and supervision of their construction sites in respect of high-risk operations. In addition, the LD will formulate codes of practice and guidelines on safe system of work and high-risk processes to promote the systemic safety of the construction industry.

     In view of the spate of serious incidents involving high-risk processes in recent years, Mr Tong remarked that the LD has conducted in-depth work safety audits on these processes and analyses of the underlying systemic risks with a view to formulating relevant preventive measures. To raise the industry's awareness of these systemic safety problems and the proper implementation of preventive measures, the LD also organises from time to time thematic large-scale promotion and educational programmes, as well as seminars on high-risk processes.

     To minimise the risk of workers falling from workplaces not too high above ground or from improper ladders, the LD, in collaboration with the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC), launched a sponsorship scheme in 2013 to encourage small-and-medium sized contractors to purchase mobile working platforms. As at the end of February this year, around 1 700 applications have been approved by the OSHC, benefiting more than 18 700 workers.

     Mr Tong added that the LD will collaborate with the OSHC to broaden the scope of the sponsorship scheme to cover light duty working platforms that can be used at constrained workplaces to ensure the safety of more workers shortly.

     On enhancing publicity and training, the LD will continue to work closely with trade associations and workers' unions, organise site safety talks and stage roving exhibitions at locations near renovation and repair sites. The LD will also jointly organise the Work-at-height Safety Forum cum Safety Equipment Exhibition with the OSHC next month. Stakeholders of the trade will be invited to discuss ways to further improve work safety, and to explore specific measures to eliminate work hazards.

     This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Construction Industry Safety Award Scheme, which aims to raise the safety and health awareness of contractors, site personnel and workers of the construction industry, to foster a positive safety culture, to encourage the adoption of safe work practices, and to honour the contractors, site personnel and workers in recognition for their good occupational safety and health performance.

     The award scheme's site safety competition gains an enthusiastic participation from a total of 187 construction sites, 58 sub-contractors and 116 safety teams this year.

     The Construction Industry Safety Award Scheme is co-organised by the LD, the OSHC, the Development Bureau, the Hong Kong Housing Authority, the Occupational Deafness Compensation Board, the Construction Industry Council, the Pneumoconiosis Compensation Fund Board, the Hong Kong Housing Society, the Hong Kong Construction Association, the Hong Kong General Building Contractors Association, the Hong Kong Construction Sub-Contractors Association, the Hong Kong Federation of Electrical and Mechanical Contractors Limited, the Minor Works Contractor Association, the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union and The Federation of Hong Kong Electrical and Mechanical Industries Trade Unions. The Chairman of the Occupational Safety and Health Council, Mr Conrad Wong, and representatives of the co-organisers also officiated at the award presentation ceremony today.

Ends/Sunday, March 22, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:17


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