Enforcement of safety rules needed on construction sites

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 12:01am

I refer to the report ("High risk", April 18) about some construction workers in Hong Kong apparently not wearing any safety harnesses while working at height on bamboo scaffolding.

The Labour Department has not commented on this matter or the legal requirement (under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance) that safety harnesses be used while working at height - any work carried out above two metres (regulation 38B).

There were about 200 deaths on construction sites in Hong Kong last year, 20 of them as a result of falling from height.

The government should investigate the department and ascertain whether it is paying enough attention to health and safety in Hong Kong.

Rules and regulations are useless unless they are strictly applied and adhered to. The fact that there are so many deaths on construction sites in this day and age would suggest that not enough is being done to protect workers' health and safety.

A "two strikes and you're out" policy would help get the message across.

The first measure would be that if a worker is found to be working at height without wearing the correct harness and fall arrestor in the correct manner, the employer is issued a warning, the only one they get.

If a second instance occurs and the employer fails to ensure that all its employees were acting in accordance with the factories and industrial undertakings laws, and the Labour Department's laws, they should have their operator's licence suspended for a period of time, say, six months.

This would send a message to all contractors that the department means business when it comes to workers' health and safety. It would probably reduce the number of fatalities on construction sites, too.

Andrew Maxwell, Sai Kung