• Recognizing Leadership in Safety

    6 May 2010

    Construction can still be one of the most dangerous industries in the world.

    However compared to 20 or 30 years ago safety is now of major concern and has been high on the agenda for considerable time. From this concern came action from all sides, including government, clients and developers, contractors and employee and industry associations and as a result there has been huge drop in the number of people injured whilst working in the construction industry. Injuries and deaths are no longer viewed as ‘the cost of progress’.

    However despite this people are still injured whilst engaged in construction work and as a result may need help and assistance.

    The Lighthouse Club has been supporting the victims of construction accidents or those suffering ill-health who work in the industry for many years. Hand in hand with this the club has also been playing a proactive role in promoting excellence in health and safety to help prevent injury by improving awareness and leadership.

    Every year the Lighthouse Club Hong Kong Branch recognizes excellence in safety within Hong Kong’s construction industry with an awards programme. The programme is, as of 2010, divided into two main areas: Leadership with the Golden Helmet and Safety Leadership Awards and Frontline with the Safe Subcontractor Award and Safe Foreman Award. In 2010 and for the first time this year is jointly supported by the Construction Industry Council.

    The Golden Helmet has been awarded since 1996 to an individual who has exemplified safety leadership within the industry and is now joined by a new category of awards in 2010, the Safety Leadership Awards. These currently acknowledge two further categories, that of client organizations and developers, consultants and architects, in recognition of organizations who have safety at the forefront of their business ethics and activities.

    The Golden Helmet Award is presented to an individual who has excelled in promoting safety in its widest sense, both within their own organization and within the industry and the community at large. New for 2010 the Safety Leadership Awards for Clients and Developers and Consultants and Architects are for those who have demonstrated exemplary safety leadership in practice through the inception, design and construction of their projects.

    The Safe Subcontractor Awards recognize subcontractor’s operating on the frontlines of construction who have fully taken on board the concepts of safe working and go beyond the expectations of their clients and the industry.
    The Safe Foreman Awards recognize foremen who have demonstrated an extremely high standard or safety in the works they supervise, and an excellent understanding of construction safety risks.

    The leadership awards were originally borne out of discussions at The British Chamber of Commerce – Construction Group, which identified a need to recognize and encourage sectors of the industry that were often overlooked.

    The idea was championed by Steve Grant of Projexasia and brought to the Lighthouse Club to bring to fruition. Which with the support of CIC, the judging panel and the Lighthouse Club Safety Committee this is now a reality and following an intensive review and judging process which ran from December 2009 to March 2010, the awards were presented at a ceremony on Friday 19th March 2010 at the Hong Kong Club.

    This year the Golden Helmet Award was awarded to Ir Mak Chai-Kwong, JP, Permanent Secretary for Development (Works). The Lighthouse Club noted that CK has worked over many years to enhance the professionalism and image of the Hong Kong construction industry. In doing this CK has placed safety as a core consideration in, not only saving lives and reducing injuries, but as a key indicator of progress within the industry as a whole. CK firmly believes tidiness, cleanliness and professionally run projects go hand in hand with a safe working environment. The support and enhancement of Considerate Contractor Award schemes and the development of marking criteria, which include safety, balance a price and technical merit approach to tender assessment have, by way of example, been amongst a number of factors that has seen a dramatic improvement in the safety figures of public works projects.

    As a key industry client the Bureau safety figures are leading by example.

    More recently CK has been instrumental in securing in the Financial Secretary’s 2010-11 budget HK$100 million for the Construction Industry Council to develop and we quote, “ The safety, working environment and conditions in construction sites”.

    On a personal level, CK’s passion for safety and the care and concern for his fellow man has taken him on numerous visits to Sichuan Province to help in earthquake reconstruction work. In his acceptance speech Mr. Mak mentioned the fact that construction workers are not recognized and are often treated as third class citizens, with an urgent the need to enhance the position of these unsung heroes of projects in Hong Kong. CK mentioned the need to lift the image of construction via the CIC and change the mindset and culture of the industry – as mentioned HK$100million was set aside in the Government’s budget to support this. Public Works he said will take the lead in this effort and he appealed for the industry to take a ‘total management’ approach to construction with all parties working to together. CK concluded by mentioning that health and safety is a relay race and that as the Golden Helmet winner for 2010 he is only holding the batton for the time being and that others need to be ready to take the lead.

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