Safety at fault in work site deaths

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:49pm


A coroner ruled yesterday that the deaths of two bar benders at a construction site in Tsuen Wan were accidental, but said safety issues with equipment and the work site contributed to the tragedy.

Ng Yan-wing, 46, and Fu Po-yee, 49, died in July last year when a 10-metre-high metal cage they were working in collapsed on them at the site in Kwok Shui Road.

Ng and Fu were crushed under dozens of steel bars weighing about 180kg each. Two other workers in the cage escaped safely.

Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu accepted testimonies from two doctors that the victims died before they reached hospital.

Fu suffered broken ribs, a tear in his lung, bruises in his left heart chamber and injuries to his liver. Ng had a fractured pelvis, bladder injuries and bleeding in the abdominal cavity.

Chan said uneven ground at the high-rise residential site, and a lack of locks and supporting bars on the two-metre-diameter cage were the main problems.

The steel cage should have had 318 locks at connecting points. But when the accident happened, only 78 were locked and the screws in more than half of those were so loose that they could be unscrewed by hand.

Chan accepted the suggestion that cage designs should be approved by a structural engineer first, rather than being left to on site contractors. An impartial foreman not involved in the project should also be present to inspect the work and halt operations should anything go wrong, he said.

He also informally suggested that the Labour Department should inspect sites more frequently.

The Labour Department said yesterday that it would study the suggestions and that it had co-operated with the Construction Industry Council to draw up safety tips for foremen and engineers after the incident.

Ng's wife said outside court that she accepted the ruling that her husband's death was accidental, but urged more safety measures at construction sites.' They [workers] are doing such a dangerous job, but no one tells them what they should do to ensure their own safety,' she said.

The high-rise project's contractor compensated the victims' families last year.