Law and Enforcement

ANOTHER WORKER DEAD AS KAI TAK CONSTRUCTION FEVER MOUNTS

The site where 57-year-old construction worker Ms Wu lost her life: a review of 73 Kai Tak sites last year threw up hundreds of safety violations

A construction worker has died after falling through two floors of an unfinished building at a Kai Tak building site yesterday morning, once again raising questions on worker protections through the Kai Tak construction frenzy.

Worker Ms Wu, 57, reportedly fell 11 metres, from the 11th floor to the 9th floor, through a floor gap in a building under construction on Muk Shui Street in the Kai Tak Development Area (KTDA).

Wu was found unconscious on the 9th floor and declared dead at United Christian Hospital.

In its standard press release used for fatal construction incidents, Labour Department (LD) said it was “saddened” by the woman’s death and said it had suspended construction work at the site.

But Kai Tak has proved a dangerous place for construction workers since ground broke on the 320-hectare KTDA “mega project” at and around the former airport.

Almost exactly a year ago, a spate of three worker deaths within one week prompted LD to launch a “Special Enforcement Operation” to investigate unsafe work practices in the district.

During that four-week blitz operation, LD investigated 73 Kai Tak work sites and found almost 500 safety infringements: the department issued 438 “improvement notices” and initiated 51 prosecutions.

“The above-mentioned legal notices and prosecutions mainly involved failure to erect guard rails at floor edges, failure to use safe working platforms, unsafe electrical work and lifting operations, as well as failure to wear suitable safety helmets and eye protectors by workers,” said LD at the time.

The Department has not yet responded to further questions on the latest death or the results of its April 2021 safety prosecution campaign.

An unprotected 3-metre-deep pit at the new Community Isolation Facility work site on the former runway. The site is also poorly guarded, with no effective security preventing public access.

Across the city, construction “accidents”, as LD calls fatal incidents, rose 10% last year and also became more deadly, with almost 1% of construction incidents in the first three quarters of 2020 being fatal against 0.78% in the same period in 2019, according to data seen by Transit Jam.

But detailed public data is hard to come by: full-year figures for 2021 are not yet available and Labour Department does not list or report fatal construction incidents in its 2020 annual report.

A recent Transit Jam visit to a Kai Tak Runway Park construction site showed many potential environment, health and safety violations, including an unprotected 3-metre pit and an absence of effective dust control measures.

Neither Environmental Protection Department or LD has responded to questions on the alleged violations.

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