Construction Safety and Construction Safety Jobs In Hong Kong
Posted by Richard Poulter, Construction Recruitment Director, Hong Kong on Tuesday, August 22, 2023
The construction industry plays a major role in global economic development and employment. For those working in or considering a career in construction, it’s an exciting, challenging and stimulating industry for budding young Civil Engineers, Quantity Surveyors, Planners and Project Managers. Unfortunately it is also an industry where industrial accidents and serious personal injuries still frequently occur, which of course have an enormous financial, social and emotional cost. It is hopefully a role in which construction safety professionals can make a positive difference.
Boom And Gloom
Today, tower cranes proliferate the skyline of Hong Kong as the construction industry flourishes and the city witnesses yet another construction boom. With this surge in activity there has been a regrettable but inevitable growth in accidents with 13,99 industrial accidents on construction sites recorded in the first half of 2022. According to the Labour Department, there were 23 recorded fatalities during 2021 and 17 fatalities recorded in 2022. To provide context, this translates to a fatality rate which is 5 times higher than that of all other industries in Hong Kong. “One life lost to an industrial accident is too many”, no truer words spoken by a representative of the office of the Ombudsman, investigating the Government departments regarding their effectiveness in enforcing legislation at the time.
Who Is Managing Safety?
The current legislation in Hong Kong intended to protect worker safety comprises the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance and their subsidiary regulations.
On the enforcement front, the Labour Department, Buildings Department and Development Bureau collectively share responsibility by inspecting sites, by taking action against contractors who are found to violate site safety legislation, rejecting applications for registration to carry out work and suspension of them from tendering for public works. Concerned groups have long advocated for harsher penalties for those construction companies who fail to provide a safe environment for their workers, however who should ultimately shoulder this responsibility?
For safety in the construction industry to improve it’s surely a collective responsibility; for those agents of legislation enforcement, as well as employers and employees, on a personal as well as organisational level. Personal attitude, understanding and mentality play a huge role in organisational safety management. Communications is critical in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual industry and more should be done to provide the training and clear unambiguous information necessary to change people’s attitude and mindset towards safety on site. Heavy fines on contractors for non-compliance do not readily create a safer working environment!
Plans For Improvement
Whilst the industry grapples with its poor safety record, new initiatives are regularly being developed to combat this industry specific “pandemic” of fatalities. The Construction Industry Council (CIC) is developing a Design for Safety (DfS) management system, based on the UK’s CDM model, adopting a collaborative risk management approach requiring the involvement of all stakeholders in the project life cycle from design to demolition. In its simplest form, DfS is the process of identifying potential hazards at the start of design work to better mitigate risks throughout the project.
A Safer Tomorrow
A collaborative approach is indeed necessary to improve safety in the construction industry in Hong Kong. And let’s be under no illusion, the construction industry all over the World is suffering safety records that need to be improved. Dedicated industry professionals such as Registered Safety Officers and Health And Safety Managers, working for clients, consultants and contractors, steer their construction careers to creating a safer tomorrow.
Maxim Recruitment is working with a number of key clients seeking high caliber dedicated individuals within the construction safety sector. One of these is a fantastic opportunity for a client facing HSE Manager, find out more today if this sounds like you.