Workers’ safety being ‘disregarded’ on Hong Kong-Macau bridge sites, watchdog says
Since 2010, 10 workers have died and over 600 have been injured on the bridge construction sites, figures showed
An industrial accident watchdog has accused the Highways Department of disregarding workers’ safety, saying it had consistently turned a blind eye to non-compliance.
The comments came as the body of a 41-year-old man, who was killed in a fatal accident on Wednesday on one of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge construction sites, was retrieved last night.
The man was the second to die in the accident. Three others were injured.
They had been dismantling a temporary working platform underneath a viaduct outside Tai O when the accident happened.
The workers were hooked up to the platform with harnesses, and fell into the sea when the platform collapsed at about 3pm on Wednesday.
The viaduct serves as a link between the bridge’s Hong Kong section and Scenic Hill on Chek Lap Kok Island.
Chan Kam-hong, chief executive of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, said the project’s contractor failed to comply with the relevant safety guidelines.
He said workers’ safety belts should instead be hooked to an independent lifeline that is attached to a secured place.
He made the comments after a meeting with department officials, victims’ families and representatives of the contractor, Dragages-China Harbour-VSL Joint Venture.
“When we pointed this error out to the contractor’s representative, he didn’t think it was a problem and still insisted that hooking the safety belt to the platform was alright,” Chan said.
“The Highways Department knew that this was a problem, but the official didn’t dare to make any comments.
“I think this is a serious dereliction of duty on the part of the Highways Department as this kind of non-compliance is not the first time and we’ve warned the department many times.
“The department completely disregards workers’ safety,” he added.
The contractor has agreed to offer compensation to the injured workers and the family of the deceased, Chan added.
The Highways Department has set up an independent team to investigate the cause of the accident in an effort to prevent recurrences and to improve site safety, a department spokeswoman said.
A report will be submitted to the director of highways in three months with the findings to be made public.
Appropriate follow-up actions will be undertaken by the department.
“The contractor was instructed to immediately conduct a comprehensive safety review of the work site to ensure the works safety,” she said.
The association’s figures showed that since 2010, a total of 10 workers have died and over 600 have been injured while working on the bridge’s construction sites.