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Subsidies Offered to Enhance Work Safety
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A subsidy of up to 3,000 HK dollars (US$385) is offered to small and medium-sized contractors to purchase fall arresting and anchoring equipment to improve work safety at heights, according to a government press release on Sunday.

A total of 149 applications have been received, Permanent Secretary for Economic Development & Labor Matthew Cheung said on Sunday.

The scheme, jointly launched by the Labor Department and the Occupational Safety Health Council in October, aims to improve work safety involving truss-out scaffolds, which are commonly usedin repair and maintenance works.

Speaking at the Construction Industry Safety Award Scheme presentation ceremony on Sunday, Cheung said there were 1,070 accidents involving repair, maintenance, minor alteration and addition works in the first three quarters of 2005, accounting for41 percent of the total number of construction accidents.

The Labor Department has adopted a targeted approach and more flexible measures to step up the enforcement work regarding truss-out scaffolds, he said.

Apart from normal point-to-point inspections, occupational safety officers also conduct blitz enforcement action at night and during holidays to clamp down on offending contractors. Suspension notices or improvement notices will be issued when necessary.

"We have also enhanced cooperation with the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies by setting up a reporting mechanism. We can then get hold of schedules of property maintenance works using truss-out scaffolds to facilitate us to take follow-up action," Cheung said.

In the first three quarters of last year, the number of construction accidents stood at 2,587 as against 2,889 in the same period in 2004, down 10.5 percent.

This year, 84 construction sites, 47 sub-contractors and 57 safety teams took part in the Construction Industry Safety Award Scheme.

(Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2006)

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