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Opening remarks by SLW at CIC Master Class on Design for Safety (Project Managers) Kick-off Ceremony (English only)
     Following are the opening remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Chris Sun, at the CIC Master Class on Design for Safety (Project Managers) Kick-off Ceremony organised by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) this morning (October 10):

Thomas (Chairman of the CIC, Mr Thomas Ho), Roger (Deputy Secretary for Development (Works), Mr Roger Wong), Siu-hung (Legislative Council Member Mr Chan Siu-hung), P L (Legislative Council Member Mr Chan Pui-leung), Alice (Director of Drainage Services, Ms Alice Pang),

     Good morning. It is great to attend the kick-off ceremony today. Thanks for having me here for a very important subject, which is on design for safety.

     The construction industry is no doubt one of the major driving forces of our economy. Through construction, it connects communities. Of course, it provides jobs and also builds a much better society. It has been contributing tremendously to the transformation of Hong Kong over decades through rural areas, urban revitalisation and building an immense amount of infrastructure. The gross value of construction works in Hong Kong in the first half of this year amounted to $120 billion. It is a huge amount of work to be done.

     While we should all be proud of what the industry has contributed to Hong Kong, we should not lose sight of the safety of the some 360 000 registered workers in the industry and our vision to achieve zero accidents at construction sites. I am sure this is the very reason that we all gather here today.

     No doubt, as Thomas has shown us in his very impressive and informative presentation, the overall occupational safety and health situation of Hong Kong has improved over the years. If you look at the standard measurement, i.e. the accident rate per 1 000 workers, it has been falling continuously for years. If you look at the number in 2021, it stood at 15.2. So, it is a tremendous improvement over the years, thanks to the great work of all stakeholders. But sadly, if you look at the construction sector itself, if we zoom in a little bit closer into the occupational safety situation of the construction sector, it almost doubled every year. The average of the overall number for many, many years has been the highest among all industries. But, it is no surprise to us, given the nature of the work of construction workers. If you look at the death toll of the construction industry, it is also significantly higher than that of all other industries. Over the past five years, we lost close to 100 lives, and these death tolls accounted for more than 80 per cent of all industrial accidents in Hong Kong.

     As you all know, the Government attaches great importance to the occupational safety and health of the construction industry, and we have been working closely with the CIC to promote safety at construction sites. The Labour Department, which I headed last year until I took up this new position, implements multi-pronged strategies through inspection and enforcement, education and training as well as promotion and publicity to ensure workers' safety. The Department stays alert to the changing risk profiles of the industry, and refines its strategies and implements new ones to ensure they are relevant and timely.

     As much as the Government has done in promoting a work safety culture, the most effective and practical approach to ensure work safety is to avoid hazards from occurring in the first place. It is often far more practical and cost-effective to address safety at the design and planning stage, rather than making changes when the hazards have already become a real risk to employees and users. As Thomas has made it very clear to us, clients, designers, architects, contractors and everyone else involved in a construction project all have crucial roles to play in identifying the health and safety risks that could arise throughout the life cycle of the building or construction works. It takes concerted efforts of all of us to put safety first in every aspect of a construction project.

     The Government fully subscribes to the concept of design for safety. I appreciate the Council's effort in setting up a task force and also commissioning a consultancy to look into the implementation of the concept in Hong Kong. The Labour Department is committed to working closely with the Council and other stakeholders to take forward the initiative through promotion and its pilot implementation.

     As Thomas quoted, and I am going to quote the Chinese saying 千里之行,始於足下 as well, which in English says, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step", today's event marks an important step for the industry's stakeholders to get acquainted with the concept through the sharing of international and local examples of design for safety and specifically on the roles and responsibilities of project managers. I hope different players of the construction industry can fully embrace the concept of design for safety in your respective areas of work, and work together towards achieving zero accidents at construction sites.

     Finally, on this sunny and cool morning which reminds us finally we are in autumn, may I express my sincere appreciation to the Council for its effort in pursuing this important initiative, and I look forward to working closely with the Council to bring this important vision into fruition. Thank you very much.
Ends/Monday, October 10, 2022
Issued at HKT 11:28
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