Airport site safety measures working

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 May, 1994, 12:00am

AS Secretary for Works I would like to set the record straight about certain points raised in a news report and an editorial on Airport Core Programme (ACP) site safety on Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week. These two items contained seriously misleading assertions, and did not give your readers a balanced picture.

Overall accident statistics on ACP sites continue to show a downward trend, indicating that our safety measures have been working. They are also better than the norm in Hong Kong. For example, up to the end of last month, the fatality rate for all ACP sites combined was less than one per 1,000 workers a year, compared with an industry average in 1993 of 1.4.

The combined non-fatal accident rate was 96 per 1,000 works on ACP sites, compared with 295 for the industry as a whole. The airport site itself at Chek Lap Kok is in fact doing rather better. Let me stress however that we are not satisfied even with this level of improvement, and our efforts to promote safety will continue.

The recent deaths on ACP sites have not occurred because of any lack of effort to ensure safety and enforce safety standards. Nor have they occurred because of any cost-cutting. Sadly accidents happen because of carelessness on sites, any sites, and are a continual reminder that we cannot afford to be complacent. Our target is nil fatalities. The Government, the Provisional Airport Authority, and other organisations involved in the ACP, are all taking every possible step to minimise accidents, both on land and at sea. Every effort is also being made to ensure that laws and regulations are obeyed. There is no gag on anybody.

I personally chair regular meetings covering every ACP project of very senior management responsible for ACP construction activities, particularly emphasising safety. In turn each ACP contract has regular safety meetings at all levels, including workforce safety training. The purpose is accident avoidance, including advice from the Labour Department, fire services and police, but we also review the circumstances surrounding every death and major accident. We identify lessons learned and pass these on not only to the contractor concerned, but also to other ACP contractors. We are willing to hear all comments and listen to any criticism of our safety record and what we are doing - hoping of course that such comments and criticism will be well-informed and constructive.

JAMES BLAKE Secretary for Works Hong Kong Government