• Housing Authority initiatives promote safety across construction industry

    27 April 2013

    As Hong Kong continues to grow, nearly half of the population lives in government subsidised housing. And it is Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) safety initiatives that allow for the continued accident-free construction of these seemingly endless tower blocks, whilst at the same time influencing constantly improving standards across the local construction industry.

    051With around 30 active HA construction projects involving over 6,000 onsite workers on the go at any one time, and while work standards and the quality of work produced is paramount, it also goes hand in hand with safety.

    As a public sector developer, HA is constantly striving to maximise the use of available resources in its continued provision of quality homes for low-income families with housing needs, however, the safety of onsite personnel ranks as the number one priority above and beyond all other considerations.

    023The HA adoption of the extensive use of modularisation, mechanisation and prefabrication over many years, along with the benefits derived from proven methodologies for onsite safety, is widely regarded as the forerunner of best practices applied across the industry today.

    This has been achieved through the introduction of practical measures, such as hard paved construction, surveillance plus administrative measures for tower-crane lifting, and intensified fall protection for lift shaft work, which go hand in hand with the tightening of safety audits and safety performance assessments, together with the implementation of quarantines for tenders if tenderers or contractors breach safety guidelines or are found involved in specific onsite incidents.

    The Housing Authority implements a policy of encouraging contractors to improve and excel in onsite performance by strict adherence to its “five-ZERO” formula, namely ZERO accidents, ZERO incidents, ZERO convictions, ZERO complaints and ZERO disputes, and works tirelessly to raise onsite standards and performance and to foster best practices as applied by contractors throughout the procurement process, commencing with the selection of tenderers, the monitoring of contractors’ performance, motivating those who perform and also sanctioning those who fail in their obligations to HA and the industry as a whole.

    021Specific new HA measures have been applied across the board at all HA project sites to further secure its notable zero-accident record. These include the promoting of new safety-related innovations that are part of the Pay for Safety programme, the launch of HASAS (Housing Authority Safety Audit System) with a “safe system of work approach” in order to further enhance safety auditing in relation to active onsite contracts, the launch of HALENSAS (Housing Authority Lift and Escalator Nominated Sub-contracts Safety Auditing System), a safety audit programme specifically targeting lift works, the launch of SSIP (Surprise Safety Inspection Programme) that focuses on high-risk activities, as well as onsite safety compliance checks in relation to all onsite projects through surprise inspections without any advance notice.

    Additional innovations 

    photo TerrySpeaking on behalf of HA, Housing Authority Senior Manager Safety and Health, Terry, K.C. Ching, explains that HA constantly initiates the introduction of new and innovative safety measures through Pay for Safety in order to continue the evolution of onsite safety.

    “This has stimulated HA’s business partners to also going that extra mile by heralding safety innovations for meaningful purposes,” states Ms Ching. “In effect it is the leveraging of safety innovations that not only help make the construction process safer, but at the same time also assures the terms of quality, efficiency and construction worthiness.”

    “These initiatives need to be practicable and contribute to the continued improvement of control measures in relation to the different aspects of safety or health and, for the purpose of conferring recognition in Pay for Safety, have to be validated through safety audits by the Safety Audit Management Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Council.” 

    Additional recent examples of innovative initiatives introduced in relation to onsite safety include the safe fabrication of large diameter bored piles in factories with tailor-made machines, together with an automatic robotic welding arm, the enhanced efficiency of fabrication requiring two workers and reducing hazards associated with traditional methods which were also labour intensive and required five or six workers to carry out, and also reducing waste and scrap.

    “Another recent “going the extra mile” initiative involves a 360-degree free rotating hanger system, where the hanger is set up on a steel frame to accommodate a generator and welding set for hanging electricity cables above ground,” states Ms Ching. “As a result hangers can be rotated so that the cables can be relocated easily during the welding work. This design also helps improve site housekeeping, thus reducing the risk of accidents as a result of tripping over cables lying on the ground. It also helps reduce the risk of electrical shocks and manual handling operations.” 

    It’s all TEAMwork  

    038Ms Ching explains that at HA, the term “TEAM’ refers to “Together Everyone Achieves More”, and onsite safety training programmes are conducted for resident site staff, professionals and technical works staff, as well as professional service providers in a bid to strengthen core competencies.

    “We promote a continuous process of educating our staff and business partners and encouraging them to always strive to improve and excel in their performance,” states Ms Ching.

    “HA will continue to implement caring safety measures in line with all its projects, as well as future industry developments. We will also examine linking SSIP with Pay for Safety, establish an Occupational Incident & Disease Surveillance System for monitoring accidents and incidents onsite, implement measures to effectively strengthen mechanical plant safety, further strengthen the safety competencies of contractor management personnel, and review the practicality of incorporating the SSIP score index into system scores. In this way we will continue in the pursuance of the “five-ZERO” formula and a safer onsite working environment for everyone.”


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