Safety experts called for a “radical rethink” when it comes to construction health and safety, at an event held in Hong Kong, 26 April 2013. Experts from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Hong Kong Branch issued the warning following an increase in the number of accidents, injury and fatalities in the industry. Dr Sammy Wan, chair of the IOSH Hong Kong Branch, said: “In the next few years the public infrastructure expenditure in Hong Kong is estimated to exceed HK$70 billion annually.
“With a number of sizable projects approaching their construction peak, it’s vital we see better protection of workers through excellent safety performance to reduce the risk of fatality, injury and illness in the workplace – even one death is one too many.”
In 2011, 23 people were killed in the construction industry, in comparison to nine during the previous year.
Dr Wan added: “It’s disheartening that accidents in the construction industry claimed 24 lives in 2012. There is always room for improvement when it comes to occupational health and safety.
“With so much construction currently taking place, employers need to ensure health and safety is paramount and that corners aren’t being cut. A radical rethink is needed when it comes to construction safety, therefore today’s event is about encouraging safety leadership in order to make appropriate decisions and plan a realistic approach.”
In late 2012, an inflated pipe plug inside a sewage outfall pipe suddenly ruptured during the concreting process and causing the death of one worker and injuries to two. At the beginning of March this year, seven people were critically injured when a lift suddenly plunged after all four cables broke – it is accidents like this the IOSH Hong Kong Branch is trying to prevent.
Michael Fong, chief assistant secretary in Development Bureau (Works) for the Government of HKSAR, who spoke at the event, said: “The Hong Kong Government has been attaching great importance to construction safety. With the joint efforts of the Government and the industry, we have seen a continuous downward trend of construction accident rates since 1990s but the accident rates have reached a plateau in recent years.
“There is a clear need for a critical re-think of our safety strategies and measures. The IOSH’s Conference is the most timely event to bring together a group of top edge safety experts to discuss on these important matters.”
More than 130 delegates attended the IOSH Hong Kong Branch’s Annual Safety Conference 2013: Radical rethinking of safety leadership and planning towards excellence. Besides Michael Fong, speakers at the event included, Joseph Mak, chief structural engineer for the Housing Department, Government of HKSAR, Ir Prof Steve Rowlinson, from the University of Hong Kong, Ir Alex Lau, senior manager of operations and occupational safety, MTR Corporation Limited, Ir Desmond Sze, Operations Manager, Leighton Contractors (Asia) Limited and Tim Briggs, IOSH president-elect.