Name and shame contractors that have poor safety records

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 July, 2007, 12:00am

Following the fatal accident in Causeway Bay on Tuesday ('Site inspections across HK after crane deaths,' July 11), there will now be a period of various government departments and officials decrying the situation and saying 'something must be done'.

The commissioner of labour commented that steps must be taken to minimise such events. Surely the target should be to eradicate them.

The government is in a position to take the lead. It is a major source of work for the Hong Kong construction industry and, with forecast spending over the next five years, will become even more significant.

What is the problem with making all contractors tendering for major government projects reveal their accident statistics for, say, the previous three years and making this the number one pre-qualification criterion?

Similarly, safety records should be in the public domain. This will mean that contractors with poor site safety records are named and shamed.

I was on the panel of a safety seminar a few years ago when this idea was put forward, and the government official at the seminar commented this would be impractical as it would 'embarrass those companies with bad records'.

Whilst the government pays some heed to the number of prosecutions issued by the Labour Department, this is somewhat of a red herring as it is relative to the amount of work a contractor carries out, whereas safety statistics and accident statistics are based on severity and frequency and therefore qualitative.

Of course the end result of having safer sites would be an increase in cost, and therein lies the real issue.

Let us have some feedback from government departments which are embarking on major projects as to the importance they give to safety in the tendering process.

Also let us have the worst offenders in the public eye.

Owen Davis, Causeway Bay