Government plans safety blitz on public contracts

COSTS for implementing safety regulations on government construction sites could be standardised in a bid to reduce accidents.

And construction firms with poor safety records on government projects could be barred from public works contracts.

The Secretary for Works, Mr James Blake, said yesterday the proposal was aimed at ensuring contractors did not reduce safety standards because of competition to offer the cheapest price.

Under the proposal, the Government will list safety measures required for public works contracts and set a cost for each one.

When bidding for the contracts, firms will have to include the cost in their bids. If bidding contractors are forced to employ the same safety measures, it should reduce the temptation to slash costs by cutting corners on safety.

Mr Blake said the measures would go a long way towards improving the safety situation.

At present, all safety items included in the tenders were subjected to competitive pricing.

And contractors did not have the same responsibility to use the best measures, he said.

''What we intend to do is identify what the reasonable cost should be for elements relating to safety and include those in the contracts,'' he said.

Mr Blake pointed out that the proposal, once agreed by the various departments concerned and the construction industry, could be implemented quite quickly.

He also indicated that they would issue the first part of a safety manual for public works programme contracts, which was similar to those incorporated into the Airport Core Projects, in the next two months.

The manual requires tenderers to submit outline safety plans during tendering and establish a site safety management committee. Safety audits will be carried out.

Employees who repeatedly breach safety rules will not be allowed on site.

Mr Blake said the poor performance of any contractor in site safety would be reflected in the overall performance report which would affect their chances of getting government contracts.