BUILDING projects will cost more and take longer to complete because of planned tougher construction safety laws, the Hong Kong Construction Association (HKCA) has warned. But the group, representing 350 leading contractors, said the costs were unavoidable if the high number of construction site accidents was to decrease. 'Construction will take longer to complete and cost more but this is the price that has to be paid to make building sites safer,' said HKCA secretary-general, Patrick Chan Wing-tung. Mr Chan was responding to plans announced yesterday by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department for tougher laws on construction hoists and working platforms. He said the regulations were the first part of more stringent and comprehensive legislation intended to make contractors and workers more responsible. This will result in extra training for workers and additional checks on machines by government-appointed inspectors to make sure they are properly installed and operate efficiently. 'The cumulative effect of this will be to increase costs [and the time taken to complete projects],' he said. Electrical and Mechanical Services deputy director Tong Kin-wah said the new regulations were being introduced following the North Point disaster in June 1993 when 12 workers died after a hoist plunged 17 floors at a Java Road construction site. A bill was approved by the Executive Council and will go before legislators on February 15.