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LCQ19: Road works safety
     Following is a question by the Hon Ho Kai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (November 16):


     A number of traffic accidents causing the death of road repair workers have occurred in recent months. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of traffic accidents causing casualties of road repair workers in the past five years; among such cases, the respective numbers of those which occurred on highways and at night-time;

(2) as the authorities indicated in July this year that they were currently reviewing the Code of Practice for the Lighting, Signing and Guarding of Road Works (the Code) and would consider amending the relevant legislation, of (i) the progress of such work and (ii) the expected timetable for formulating the latest standards of the Code and amending the relevant legislation; the short-term measures in place before such work is completed to reduce traffic accidents causing casualties to road repair workers;

(3) of the respective numbers of random and surprise inspections conducted on a regular basis in the past five years by staff members of the Highways Department at night-time to see if road works contractors complied with the legislation and the Code; the number of non-compliance cases uncovered during those inspections, with a breakdown by subject of non-compliance; and

(4) of the number of surprise inspections conducted in the past five years by staff members of the Labour Department at road works sites on issues relating to occupational safety, and the number of prosecutions instituted against the persons responsible for the works sites or the contractors for alleged non-compliance?



     My reply to the Hon Ho Kai-ming's question is as follows:

(1) The number of traffic accidents involving works vehicles and causing casualties of road repair workers from 2011 to October 2016 is set out in Annex 1.

(2) The Highways Department (HyD) has been attaching great importance to the safety of road works, and has stringently formulated relevant requirements on lighting, signing and guarding. These requirements have been set out in the Code of Practice for the Lighting, Signing and Guarding of Road Works (the Code) prescribed under the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap 374) (the Ordinance) so that contractors will ensure adequate lighting, signing and guarding of road works to protect the safety of workers and road users.

     The HyD has been highly concerned about the recent traffic accidents involving road works. To enhance road safety, the HyD has implemented the following new measures for road works under its purview with effect from November 1 this year to enhance the safety protection of workers at road works sites:

(i) For road works on public roads with a speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour (km/h) or above (including expressways), a shadow vehicle equipped with a truck-mounted attenuator (or temporary safety barriers with an appropriate containment level) and a longitudinal safety clearance zone (buffer zone) (see first photo in Annex 2) should be provided in front of the works area in order to reduce damage to the works site and injury to its workers if it is hit by a vehicle during an accident;

(ii) The current requirements of providing shadow vehicles equipped with truck-mounted attenuators, flashing arrow signs, warning lanterns and signage when conducting mobile operations (such as setting up and removing lane closure, emptying a gully, sweeping/watering, or emergency road surface repairs) on expressways (see second photo in Annex 2) will also be applied to mobile operations on public roads with a speed limit of 70 km/h or above; and

(iii) The specification requirement of retroreflectivity on the rear of a truck-mounted attenuator on a shadow vehicle will be enhanced to provide better warning to motorists and the minimum weight of a shadow vehicle will be clearly specified to enhance the protection for workers.

     In some special cases (such as cases involving complex urban road junctions and space constraints on roads) where the actual site environment does not have the conditions for implementing the above measures, the HyD officer-in-charge will work closely with relevant departments to develop the work plans and to strengthen temporary traffic control measures to enhance the overall safety of the works after taking into consideration the site constraints.

     Meanwhile, an inter-departmental working group comprising members from the HyD, the Transport Department and the Police is comprehensively reviewing the need to improve the lighting, signing and guarding measures relating to road works (with reference to the latest developments in relevant technologies, local experience, the latest overseas standards and practices, their feasibility and applicability to the local roads in Hong Kong, etc.) with a view to further enhancing the safety protection measures for carrying out road works, and making amendments to relevant legislation if necessary. The review on the lighting, signing and guarding measures relating to road works is scheduled for completion in the middle of next year. Where necessary, the Government will propose amendments to relevant legislation.

(3) The HyD will conduct regular and surprise inspections on road maintenance works undertaken under a contract to check the quality and safety of such works, including compliance with safe working procedures implemented by the contractors as specified in the Code.

     Between 2011 and 2015, the HyD staff conducted a total of about 13 000 regular and surprise inspections at night-time, or an average of about seven per night, to check if road maintenance contractors complied with the Ordinance and the Code. The HyD has not kept records on the respective numbers of regular and surprise inspections.

     During such inspections, the HyD identified 270 non-compliance cases, of which 248 cases concerned lighting, signing and guarding at works sites, including signage not properly secured, lack of information or wrong information on notice boards, defective flashing arrow signs and discolouring of warning signs. Another 22 non-compliance cases concerned personal protective equipment for workers, mainly non-wearing of safety helmets.

     Of the above non-compliance cases, the contractors had immediately rectified the minor non-compliance cases upon the request of HyD and the HyD had deducted the payment to the contractors according to contract mechanism. Serious non-compliance cases will be reflected in the contractor's performance report. Past performance of contractor will be one of the factors in considering their future tenders for public works contracts.

(4) The Labour Department (LD) from time to time conducts surprise inspections of road works sites. The statistics of the relevant enforcement data are compiled on the basis of the industry classification code published by the International Labour Organization, and the classification code does not include a separate industry category on road works. According to its records from 2011 to October 2016, LD conducted 989 surprise inspections on roadwork sites, took out seven prosecutions and issued 72 suspension notices/ improvement notices to the responsible persons or contractors of the sites.
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:45
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