Spate of gondola fatalities sparks industry push

Hong Kong saw eight fatal industrial accidents in the first half, 70 percent of which involved workers falling from height, the Construction Industry Council said.

That came as the industry held a webinar Monday on the safety of gondola operations to encourage a review of safety procedures for working at heights on building sites, with chairman Derrick Pang Yat-bond hoping the industry will learn from painful lessons.

For him, the eight fatalities highlighted the inadequate protection for workers in the industry.

Assistant Commissioner of Labour Chan Ka-lai said owners must ensure gondolas comply with maintenance and operational legalities, while Terence Lam Tat-ming, principal assistant to the development secretary, said the safety message should be delivered to the frontline.

The seminar highlighted regulations and requirements for gondola operations, policies and procedures on the management of contractors, management, key points of gondola work, points to note throughout the timespan of projects, and the role of management companies and suggestions to improve the safety of gondola operations.

The council hopes the industry would put life first and say no to danger into practice instead of using the terms merely as a slogan.

"All frontline workers must be briefed on safety awareness by management and workers should be encouraged to stop work immediately and report to the management if they encounter any unsafe situations," said the council. "Everyone has a role to play to ensure 'zero accidents' at sites."

The most recent gondola accident happened on June 13 at the 23-story London Court block at Realty Gardens in the Mid-Levels that saw two workers plunge to their deaths.