Hong Kong DOL Increases Inspections After Fatal Falls

Speaking this month during the presentation of a construction industry safety award, Commissioner for Labour Donald Tong Hong cited fatalities late last year and three deaths this year in lifting operations.

A construction boom in Hong Kong has raised the number of workers in that industry sharply, and recent fatalities in the industry have the full attention of the special administrative region's Labour Department. Commissioner for Labour Donald Tong, speaking earlier this month at a ceremony to present a construction industry safety award, said construction employment has risen about 60 percent, from about 50,000 in 2009 to about 80,000 in 2013. Tong said the department has increased its inspections, enforcement, education, and training, and he called on the construction industry to take precautions to ensure site safety.

Tong said repair, maintenance, and renovation work also has increased. He said the department is highly concerned about fatal falls that occurred late last year and three fatalities related to lifting operations early this year.

"The Labour Department has stepped up surprise inspections at construction sites, pinpointing high-risk operations such as working at height, lifting operations, and electrical work, and will take stringent enforcement actions in this regard," he said. "Immediate enforcement action will be taken without prior warning once breaches of the safety legislation are detected. Suspension notices or improvement notices will be issued, and prosecution actions will be taken promptly as appropriate."

The department also will launch special enforcement operations to curb unsafe operations. Last year, it launched a sponsorship scheme to subsidize small and medium-sized contractors' purchases of suitable mobile working platforms to reduce the risk of falls from unsafe ladders. More than 900 applications have been approved so far, he said.

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