Only when it hurts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 July, 1994, 12:00am

HONG KONG'S industrial accident record is not one to boast about. Last year 80 workers were killed on construction sites and 17,000 injured. Lax safety standards, negligence and carelessness all contributed to the worryingly high number of fatalities. Perhaps no event has brought home the need for improving conditions of worker safety than last year's North Point disaster when a lift that plunged out of control at a building site claimed 12 lives.

The Government plan to ban wayward contractors with poor worker safety records from tendering for publicly-funded projects is to be welcomed. There is no reason employers cannot make the workplace a safe environment, whatever the nature of the job.

Contractors who have already won public projects can expect to be monitored regularly. Those who fail monthly checks might be liable to fines worth two per cent of the value of a contract. Since the Government is responsible for 90 per cent of the civil engineering projects and half the construction works that add up to about $35 billion a year, the measures are bound to bite.

By hitting the contractors where it hurts, the message will get across that the employer must take responsibility for the safety and well-being of employees.