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Construction site safety

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The last monthly event of 2010 featured well known consultant Derek Smyth of Gammon Construction Ltd., who addressed extensively the topic of construction site safety zero fatalities by 2020, the real bottom line.  There was a good attendance of 54 members and guests.

Derek has held safety-related posts and a task force position in the Hong Kong Construction Association, the Provisional Construction Industry Co-ordination Board and the Construction Industrial Council (CIC).  He is also actively involved in enhancing construction safety and worker welfare. In the presentation, Derek used materials and challenges developed by The Tang Report, various construction industry working groups and CIC to propose an industry wide strategic approach to site safety.

He highlighted the fact that the high-risk construction industry still records the highest number of fatalities and accident rates among various industry sectors. It is clear that increasing safety measures will lead to increasing profitability, however safety in the construction industry is still accorded with a low priority.
Derek challenged the current approaches/measures taken by the industries and the government. They are not working properly, they are disjointed and lack goals and targets. Worst still, there is also a lack of vision to coordinate strategies. Currently, there are bottom-up approaches with not so much top-down efforts to tackle the problem. 

Derek stressed that it was a strategic business issue to be addressed with the firm commitment of the whole company. The government and clients should take the macro view. On the private front, safety should be the number one priority at the corporate level.

In conclusion, Derek maintained that there would be no silver bullets to resolve the problems. However, the risk to peoples safety and health at work can be properly managed and reduced to the minimum by legislation, design, leadership, worker engagement, and tertiary education and promotion.


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