Hong Kong contractor involved in Hung Hom tragedy pledges to review its work procedures
Deputy chief says all its underground tunnelling projects have been halted pending review
A review of work procedures will be carried out after three workers were killed on Monday while laying underground cables in Hung Hom.
The review was announced by Kum Shing Construction, which was responsible for tunnelling work at the CLP Power site, and would be done with its subcontractors after financial arrangements were agreed with bereaved families.
The three workers, aged 23 to 49, died after a sewer pipe burst and quickly filled a tunnel where they were digging.
Rex Wong Siu-han, deputy chief executive officer for Kum Shing, told Commercial Radio on Wednesday that it was the worst accident in the company’s more than 50-year history.
He said all the company’s underground tunnelling projects had been stopped since the accident.
“With such a major accident, we must have some problems. We will review and see how to do things better,” Wong said.
Kum Shing chief operating officer Gary Ko Chi-wai, who is an engineer, told the same programme that different procedures would be reviewed over the next couple of days, but any resumption of work would vary, depending on the nature of the projects.
Officers from the Kowloon City district crime squad are investigating the tragedy.
The Drainage Services Department said a detailed investigation into the deaths was ongoing and a report would be submitted in due course.
It is understood a remote controlled device featuring a camera has been deployed to check the water pipes near the site.
While families of the victims had demanded to know whether sufficient safety procedures were in place, Ko said, without commenting on the tragedy, that installing a lifeline was one of the options available when it came to evacuations.
“Urgent evacuation procedures are usually rehearsed at least once a month for tunnelling work,” Ko said.
He said underground sites usually tended to avoid public utilities, and burst water pipes were not expected in normal circumstances.
However, water seepage was often seen in underground work as it could come from other sources.
“We often apply chemicals to the ground to ensure water does not seep through before digging,” Ko said.
While the families said workers had to go to the toilet at underground sites due to the need to finish work quickly, Ko stressed that mobile toilets were provided at ground level.
“The underground location is just a few metres below ground level ... I believe it is not common for workers to go to the toilet underground,” Ko said.