Construction worker dies on the job after plunging seven stories

Screenshot/Apple Daily

A 53-year-old construction worker died after falling seven stories down an elevator shaft yesterday morning.

The tragic accident occurred at a construction site on Middle Road in Tsim Sha Tsui at about 9am, according to Apple Daily. The man was dead when emergency personnel reached the scene.

He was working on a scaffold inside an elevator shaft at the time of the accident, the Labour Department said in a press release yesterday.

It has ordered the contractor to stop work on the site pending an investigation into safety conditions. “The contractors cannot resume the work until the LD is satisfied that measures to abate the relevant risk have been taken,” a department spokesperson said.

The project is a shopping mall, expected to be completed next year. Apple Daily reported that the developer Henderson Land Company will pay the worker’s family HK$1 million (approximately US$127,400).

His death is the latest casualty of Hong Kong’s development boom.

Chow Luen-kiu, vice chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, told Coconuts HK that the worker, who was responsible for checking everything first thing in the morning, had the most dangerous job on the site.

“The company has the responsibility to provide a safe environment to workers, but the workers have to do risk assessment by themselves and flag anything they find any inappropriate, ” he said.

The construction field experiences the highest number of fatalities and rate of accidents out of all the city’s industries, according to the Labour Department. Ten construction workers died on the job in 2016, and 3,720 accidents occurred. Falling on construction sites accounted for the highest number of fatalities.

Hong Kong’s Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance states that employers who fail to ensure “the health and safety” of workers are liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and prison time. However, a SCMP report found that as of June 2017, no one has ever served a jail sentence under the law.

“Even though there is life lost, the boss will only face a small fine, which is not a big enough deterrent,” Chow said.

The union leader added that he hopes that LegCo, which is in the midst of discussing changes to the law, will decide to stiffen penalties for companies who flout safety regulations.

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