LD launches construction occupational safety enhancement campaign
The Labour Department (LD), together with the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC), the Development Bureau (DEVB) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC), on April 12 jointly held the Construction Industry High-risk-work Safety Summit with the aim of enhancing occupational safety. Representatives of government departments, trade associations, labour unions and other relevant organisations attended the Summit to have in-depth discussions and exchanges of views on how to enhance work safety in the construction industry. The LD also announced the launch of the Occupational Safety Enhancement Campaign "Construction Industry: Safety First".
Speaking after the Summit, the Commissioner for Labour, Mr Carlson Chan, said, "There have been 11 industrial fatalities so far in 2017, of which seven involved the construction industry. The LD is highly concerned about the situation. Apart from issuing Work Safety Alerts and Suspension Notices to stop the related work processes, the LD has recently completed a two-week special enforcement operation which focused particularly on high-risk operations such as scaffolding work. During the operation, 1 756 inspections were conducted, 197 Suspension Notices/ Improvement Notices issued, and 132 prosecutions initiated.
"Major stakeholders in the construction industry are also highly concerned about this situation. At today's Summit, participants agreed that improving the occupational safety of the construction industry is a matter for all stakeholders, and the industry must work together and take prompt action at all levels to improve construction safety performance. The participants will roll out a series of initiatives in support of the 'Construction Industry: Safety First' Campaign in the coming few months to enhance occupational safety.
"In addition to continuing with the enforcement actions against high-risk operations in the construction industry, the LD will launch a series of new initiatives, including launching a sponsorship scheme to promote the proper use of safety helmets and chin straps in collaboration with the OSHC. The LD will also enhance the Green Card course (i.e. the Mandatory Basic Safety Training Course (Construction Work)) through a more lively and interactive delivery of the curriculum to better familiarise construction workers with common risks at construction sites and how to eradicate such risks."
The Chairman of the OSHC, Mr Conrad Wong, said, "The Council will launch a series of promotional activities, including visits to construction sites with labour unions and trade associations to distribute safety stickers and safety reminders to frontline workers. The visits are to remind workers that they should always attach safety belts to a secure anchorage or use working platforms that comply with safety standards while working at height. Workers will be encouraged to always watch out for the safety of one another. The Council will also strengthen promotion on construction safety tips through television, radio and social media targeting at workers, their family and friends as well as members of the public."
Mr Wong also mentioned that since safety supervisors play a significant role in effective implementation of safety measures in construction sites, it is necessary to strengthen their training. The Council will launch a new course on "Effective Safety Leadership" and an Accreditation System for Safety Supervisors to enhance the safety management capability of small contractors.
The Chairperson of the Committee on Construction Safety of the CIC, Ms Ada Fung, noted that the CIC had discussed with different stakeholders last year to explore the requirement of using fully-boarded scaffolding or adopting closely-boarded bamboo scaffolding on every lift to reduce hazards of falling from height when working on bamboo scaffolding. The CIC targets to issue the relevant guidelines within this year. In addition, riding on the main theme "Design for Safety" focusing on Temporary Works Design in Construction Safety Week (CSW) last year, the CIC and the DEVB invited construction industries to submit applications for the Temporary Works Excellence Award 2017 in early March 2017, which is the CSW in September this year.
The Chief Assistant Secretary for Development (Works), Dr Raymond Cheung, advised that the Bureau had requested the works departments to deploy senior directorate officers to undertake dedicated visits to high risk work sites or those with poor accident records, and to consider extending the use of the Independent Safety Audit System in more public works contracts to further enhance construction site safety.
The Acting Assistant Director of Buildings (New Buildings 1), Mr Yeung Kar-kui, said that through revising practice notes to the building industry, the Buildings Department (BD) had encouraged developers to incorporate design elements conducive to the safe maintenance of external walls of new buildings, including air-conditioner platforms and curtain walls with design facilitating cleaning and repair so as to ensure the safety of workers.
The "Construction Industry: Safety First" Campaign has received strong support and active participation from key organisations representing major stakeholders of the construction industry, including developers, contractors, sub-contractors, workers and safety professionals. Other than the LD, participating organisations include the OSHC, the CIC, the DEVB, the BD, Hong Kong Construction Association, Hong Kong General Building Contractors Association, Hong Kong Construction Sub-Contractors Association, Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, Hong Kong Federation of Occupational Safety and Health Associations, the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union and the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims. The major activities are listed out in the Appendix.
The LD hopes that through this continuous large-scale campaign, all construction industry stakeholders will work together to further enhance the occupational safety situation of the industry.