26th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) In a devastating industrial accident at the construction site located at 1 Austin Road West in Hong Kong, two workers aged 63 and 61 respectively lost their lives. They entered a pipeline to commence work but tragically never emerged. It is suspected that they fell victim to hydrogen sulfide poisoning, causing them to lose consciousness and ultimately lose their lives. The case has been handed over to the Serious Crime Unit of the Yau Tsim District, who are conducting a thorough investigation from a criminal liability perspective.
This morning (26th), the grieving family members of the deceased arrived at the public mortuary in Kwai Chung to identify the bodies of their loved ones. The atmosphere was filled with sorrow as the widow wept uncontrollably, while other relatives maintained a solemn demeanour. They chose not to respond to questions posed by the reporters before leaving the premises.
Prior to the start of the executive meeting this morning, Chief Executive John Lee addressed the press and expressed deep concern over the industrial accident in West Kowloon. He extended his heartfelt condolences to the families affected and urged the Social Welfare Department to provide comprehensive support to them. The police investigation is currently focusing on determining any criminal liability, while the Labour Department is conducting thorough inspections at enclosed construction sites.
Chief Executive John Lee emphasised the importance of risk management and safety awareness among site managers and workers in light of the fatal incident in West Kowloon. He stressed that occupational safety is an ongoing endeavour and reiterated the government’s commitment to further promote it.
When asked how to prevent non-compliance with legal requirements concerning industrial accidents, Chief Executive Lee described the incident as a grave matter that necessitates collective efforts to prevent such accidents. He mentioned that penalties under occupational safety and health legislation have been increased, with violators facing a maximum prison sentence of two years. However, he emphasised that “regardless of how many laws there are, someone has to comply with them,” highlighting the need for individual participation and concerted efforts from all parties to prevent accidents.
Chief Executive Lee emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of occupational safety and health, wherein both site managers and workers recognise its significance. He mentioned that the government has been actively promoting the use of technology to enhance occupational safety and health measures, ensuring strict adherence to the prescribed protocols. The government will also conduct inspections and follow-up actions to ascertain the causes of accidents.
Furthermore, Chief Executive Lee assured that strict enforcement of regulations, adherence to guidelines, and thorough inspections by the government will be carried out. After every incident, responsibility will be thoroughly investigated, and the Labour Department has already commenced inspections of concealed working environments in a timely manner.