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Police officers inspect a collapsed crane at a Housing Society construction site on Anderson Road in Sau Mau Ping on September 8. The accident killed three people and injured six more. Photo: Felix Wong

LettersHong Kong has no room for negligence in ensuring safety on construction sites

  • Readers discuss safety practices on construction sites, the mental health of Hong Kong youth and reaching out to one’s neighbours
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Since 2000, the HK 5-S Association (HK5SA) has partnered with the Hong Kong government in promoting the 5-S practice which we developed and which was endorsed by SGS, one of the world’s largest certification bodies.

Since the Housing Society implemented the 5-S practice requirement in the Hong Kong construction industry in 2001, accidents in the industry decreased from more than 9,000 to around 3,000 within six years.

In view of the tower crane accident last week, I would like to raise the question of whether the contractor implemented the 5-S practice as required by Specification 17.25 of the Housing Society building tender.

The 5-S practice is focused on construction safety in particular. Examples include dealing with defects, leakage, breakage and their causes; preventing noise, vibration and hazards; exercising safety policy and risk assessment; and fool-proofing.

Despite the easiness and effectiveness of the 5-S practice in ensuring construction safety, some contractors might ignore it to save a few bucks at the cost of human lives. Moreover, there is no excuse for violating the contractual requirement.


Crane accident kills 3 workers at Hong Kong construction site

Crane accident kills 3 workers at Hong Kong construction site
The Malaysian government has adopted the Hong Kong 5-S practice for decades. Recently, during the KL Sports City project, Malaysia recorded zero accidents in more than 3 million man hours. They are now constructing the second tallest building in the world, Merdeka 118, and have built the spire without accident.

Whilst we offer our condolences to the families of those who died in the accident and pray for the recovery of those hospitalised, we would like to make an appeal to the Hong Kong construction industry. As construction is an accident-prone and high-risk industry compared to others, there is no room for complacency and negligence. Every contractor should follow the 5-S practice to ensure safety on construction sites.

Sam Ho, founder chair, HK5SA

Hong Kong must look out for its youth

In April and May alone this year, after face-to-face classes resumed, 11 students took their own lives and experts worried the suicide rate could reach dangerous levels if the trend persisted. Despite society’s increased recognition of the mental health challenges faced by youth, we are still losing precious young lives.

The difficulty in identifying these cases earlier ties back to young people’s hesitation in seeking help. According to our Youth Mental Health Survey in 2021, 60 per cent of respondents did not seek help for their mental health conditions. Possible reasons include not wanting to bother others. But hiding their feelings can lead to helplessness and despair.

The good news is that positive peer interactions help when a young person is feeling low. For those experiencing challenging emotions, peer guidance can be hugely beneficial in providing connection, hope and optimism.

Studies on peer support show that a reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving helps ensure youth’s emotional safety, offering social and practical support. Peers can be a safe resort for youth to turn to and promote psychological wellness, and this can be an empowering tool in addressing mental health.

Alongside peer support, professional help and knowing where to find that help is essential. Collectively, every step we take as a teacher, official, parent or member of society is fundamental to suicide prevention. We need to empower youth with the tools to develop peer support strategies. These include noticing signs and symptoms of high-risk behaviours or emotions, being intentional listeners and encouraging friends to seek professional help.

In light of World Suicide Prevention Day 2022, we encourage everyone to create hope through action. It is time for every one of us to take action to proactively care for youth around us, reinforce a safe supportive network and be that trusted go-to person for them. We need to step up and provide a safe space for youth. One life lost is one too many.

Sky Siu, executive director, KELY Support Group

Extend a hand to your neighbours

I refer to the article, “Mother arrested on suspicion of murdering 5-year-old boy in Hong Kong after rescuers thwart apparent suicide bid” ( September 3).

It is easy to pass judgment on others while we exonerate ourselves. According to reports, the woman in question has been described as “emotionally unstable”.

There are several questions that need answers. Did she not have neighbours on the floor where she lived? Couldn’t the school the son attended identify previous abuse? Were there no family members in touch with the woman?

The Covid-19 pandemic has added a lot of stress to everyday life, ranging from movement restrictions to anti-pandemic measures. The woman must have reached her breaking point. If she had received just a little help, maybe this whole incident could have been avoided and the young boy would still be alive.

To prevent similar occurrences, I believe that showing more concern for the people around us will go a long way. For example, there are activities in university residence halls which encourage interactions between hall members, helping you get to know people on your floor and in the building.

If people can make an attempt to get to know their next-door neighbours, this may be a step in the right direction. Neighbours, family and social groups can be a support system for people going through emotional distress.

Adeoti Joy, Causeway Bay

If you are having suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services.

In the US, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page