Hong Kong beefs up workplace inspection to improve safety

The move was inspired by a recent rise in fatal accidents

Hong Kong beefs up workplace inspection to improve safety

Hong Kong's Labour Department (LD) will be intensifying its inspection of multi-storey buildings that are under construction due to recent fatal workplace accidents.

According to a spokesperson for the LD, there has been several fatal accidents that involved workers falling through floor openings at construction sites, with investigations revealing that these are due to insufficient protection measures at floor openings.

"The situation is a cause for concern," said the spokesperson in a statement.

According to Hong Kong's Construction Sites (Safety) Regulations, contractors are responsible of ensuring that workers will not fall from floor openings with a height of two metres or more. They are also expected to provide guard rails, barriers, toe boards, or fences for edges or openings or provide coverings for openings.

"Top and intermediate guard rails are required for edges of openings. The height of the top guard rail above the surface of the floor opening shall be between 900 millimetres and 1 150mm, while the height of the intermediate guard rail shall be between 450mm and 600mm," said the spokesperson, citing the regulations.

"The height of a toe board shall not be less than 200mm. If coverings are to be provided for floor openings, every covering provided shall be so constructed to prevent the falling of persons, materials and articles, and the covering shall be clearly and boldly marked so as to show its purpose or be securely fixed in position."

Violators of the said regulations may be liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

Read more: Hong Kong orders construction suspension after workplace accident

The Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance also has regulations on workers' safety, with the proprietor obligated to ensure the health and safety of workers they employ. Violators will be liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and six-month imprisonment.

According to the LD spokesperson, the department will be beefing up its inspections on buildings under construction and building demolition sites, particularly on their floor openings.

Workplaces without properly fenced off floor openings may be subject to suspension without prior warning, as well as prosecutions against people in charge, the LD added.

Furthermore, the LD added it will meet with the industry next week to take effective measures to prevent accidents and to observe safety requirements for floor openings.

Workers may file reports on workplace safety on the LD's hotline, as well as on the department's online occupational safety and health complaint platform.

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