Labour Department launches special inspection to ensure safety of construction sites with bamboo scaffolds

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21st February 2024 – (Hong Kong) The Labour Department (LD) has initiated a two-week special inspection exercise aimed at enhancing work safety at construction sites across the territory. The focus of the inspection is on sites with large-scale bamboo scaffolds, with a particular emphasis on checking the safety and stability conditions of these structures. The objective is to ensure the well-being of workers in the construction industry.

During the inspection exercise, occupational safety officers from the LD will rigorously enforce the legislation and take decisive actions in case of any violations. This includes issuing suspension notices, improvement notices, and even prosecution without prior warning, all designed to deter unsafe operations.

In the aftermath of a tragic work accident at a construction site in Kai Tak, where a bamboo scaffold collapsed, resulting in the loss of two lives and injuries to three others, the LD expressed deep concern. The department is working closely with relevant authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, aiming to identify the cause and determine the liability of duty holders. The LD emphasizes that it will take appropriate actions in accordance with occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation if any violations are found.

To further enhance the stability and safety of bamboo scaffolding, the LD is currently amending its Code of Practice for Bamboo Scaffolding Safety (CoP). The amendments will cover technical requirements for putlogs, the prohibition of unauthorized alterations to bamboo scaffolds, and the requirement for bamboo scaffolders to possess valid safety training certificates. The revised CoP, which will also outline the responsibilities of “Competent Persons” overseeing scaffolding work, is expected to be issued between March and April this year.

Under the OSH legislation, employers who commit severe offences can face prosecution on indictment, with a maximum fine of $10 million and a two-year prison sentence. Employees who contravene the provisions may be subject to a maximum fine of $150,000 and a six-month imprisonment term.