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Following is a question by Ir Dr Hon Lo Wai-kwok and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council on April 30:
It has been reported that on February 22 this year, the extended crane of a heavy-duty crane lorry at a construction site in Tuen Mun snapped, and the falling part of the crane hit and killed a construction worker. Regarding industrial accidents involving crane lorries, will the Government inform this Council: To hire lawyers for accident cases read more here.
(1) of the number of industrial accidents in the past five years in which heavy-duty crane lorries overturned or the cranes of which snapped during lifting, as well as the resultant casualties; You can see here for more information.
(2) whether it has compiled statistics on and analysed the causes of the industrial accidents mentioned in (1) and improved the existing measures for regulating the operation of this type of heavy-duty machinery, such as increasing the penalties for relevant offences; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it will make reference to the experience of other places and set a longest permissible service life for this type of heavy-duty machinery, with a view to minimising accidents arising from ageing machinery, as well as require that such machinery can only be operated by professionally trained personnel with recognised qualifications; if it will, of the details and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to Ir Dr Hon Lo Wai-kwok’s question is set out below:
(1) Over the past five years (i.e. from 2009 to 2013), there were 24 incidents involving overturning or snapping of lifting jibs during lifting operations of heavy-duty crane lorries, leading to eight injuries in seven of these incidents.
(2) The major causes of the above 24 incidents included failure to maintain the stability / improper control of lifting appliances, operations exceeding the safe working load and mechanical failure. A breakdown by cause of incidents is set out as follows:
In view of the occurrence of three fatal industrial accidents involving lifting operations in the first quarter of 2014 (including one related to heavy-duty crane lorry), the Labour Department (LD) has immediately stepped up inspections and enforcement actions against lifting operations. In the first quarter this year, LD conducted a special enforcement operation targeting construction sites with lifting operations, resulting in the issue of nearly 70 legal notices and initiation of 46 prosecutions. With a view to urging relevant stakeholders to enhance safety measures on lifting operations, LD in conjunction with the Occupational Safety and Health Council, the trade association and the lifting professional organisation concerned, organised a “Mobile Crane Operation Safety Seminar” for hundreds of lifting contractors in end-April. At the seminar, LD alerted the lifting contractors of the need to pay particular attention to the systemic safety risks that LD had detected during enforcement actions. These included the need to ensure the stability of lifting appliances, the safe working load and safe lifting, as well as proper maintenance, regular tests and examinations of lifting appliances by competent persons, etc. LD will continue to take stringent enforcement action against the aforesaid systemic safety risks in the coming months. LD will issue improvement / suspension notices and initiate prosecutions as appropriate without prior warning if and when any breaches of work safety requirements be detected.
A party who contravenes occupational safety and health legislation is liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and imprisonment of 12 months. To serve as a reference for sentencing, LD will submit to the court adequate information including serious consequences incurred by the accident concerned, the upward trend of the type of accidents involved, the highest fine imposed in similar cases, etc. Depending on the circumstances of individual cases, LD will request the Department of Justice consider lodging a review or an appeal to the court in respect of the conviction and the penalty where necessary.
(3) Under the existing occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation, owners of lifting appliances (including contractors of construction sites) shall adopt adequate measures to ensure the safe use of lifting appliances, including the responsibility of ensuring that the lifting appliances are of good construction and properly maintained; that regular inspections are made by competent person; and regular tests and thorough examinations are conducted by competent examiners; and that the stability of lifting appliances is maintained and the safe working load is strictly adhered to throughout the lifting operations. In addition, the OSH legislation requires that the lifting appliances should only be operated by a competent person who holds a recognised certificate with relevant experience. The contractor and the employer have the responsibility of providing the operator with adequate information, instruction, training, and supervision. As relevant legislation already exists in regulating the safe use, maintenance, regular tests and examinations of lifting appliances, LD has no intention of setting any limit on the service life of heavy-duty lifting appliances at this stage. LD will continue to review from time to time the existing codes of practice relevant to lifting operations and the safety training course for crane operators, and enhance the safety of lifting operations through site inspections.