Script: Listening Plus - The ICC construction accident

Script: Listening Plus - The ICC construction accident

November 26, 2009
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November 05, 2009
TIM: Hi, this is Timothy Chui and you’re listening to listening plus. Today, we’ll be speaking with labour and welfare reporter Agnes Lam about a recent construction accident at the International Commerce Centre. Thanks for joining us today Agnes. First off, can you give us the details of the incident?

LAM: Well on Sunday, six workers aged between 34 and 47 were collecting construction waste on a work platform at the International Commerce Centre. The building itself is about 118 storeys high. Six workers died after the platform on the 30th floor fell 20 floors in a lift shaft in the building.

TIM: Can you tell us a little bit about the construction platform the workers were working on?

LAM: Basically at construction sites, workers sometimes have to install a work platform on different floors to collect construction waste. This kind of platform is usually constructed with steel I beams and wooden boards in order to support the weight of construction waste accumulated and workers working on them

TIM: Is this the first time an accident happened at ICC and how common are these accidents?

LAM: According to chief occupational safety officer Li Chi-leung of the Labour Department, it seems the contractor building the International Commerce Centre in Tsim Sha Tsui has been prosecuted before over substandard scaffolding and an incident involving a worker who fell. Regarding how common these types of accidents, Mr. Lee provided us some figures. He said about 1,000 prosecutions were made over substandard work platforms and work place conditions in high places last year.

TIM: Now the building is owned by Sun Hung Kai. What has been their reaction?

LAM: The senior management of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited have been very concerned about the accident. The vice chairman and the managing director of the developer, Thomas Kwok, visited the site himself and immediately announced that each of the families would be given compassionate payment of HK$1 million and also HK$20,000 for covering their funeral expenses. This developer is well known for having demand for safety standards and they provide a lot of safety training for workers and many in the industry are shocked at the accident.

TIM: What has been the government’s reaction?

LAM: The government is also very concerned about the accident, the Chief Executive Donald Tsang and the secretary for labour Matthew Cheung went down to the site at once after the accident happened to gain a better understanding of the incident and Mr. Tsang ordered a thorough investigation of the incident and he said the government will do anything to try to stop similar accidents from happening in the future

TIM: I understand an investigation is being launched. Can you give us some details of the investigation?

LAM: The labour department has set up a six member task force to investigate the industrial accident. The police is also involved in the case to see if there is any criminal element in the case.

TIM: What are some of by the concerns of the families of the deceased?

LAM: Since Sun Hung Kai Properties had responded to needs, especially regarding financial problems they might have, there haven’t been any complaints by the families. But most of them insist that the developer should cover educational expenses for all their children because it seems the children from all these families are very good at studying and they do want to study at universities and now that all their fathers are gone and their worried that the educational needs of these children will be affected in the future so they insist that the developer should cover all their expenses and SHK agreed. TIM: Are there any other uncertainties or concerns involving this incident?

LAM: The government will step up inspections and checks at all construction sites, concerning safety standards for workers working in heights, and Sun Hung Kai is also conducting a safety assessment review in all of their construction sites and also trying to introduce measures which might enhance safety standards.

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