The Government attaches great importance to site safety. We regularly review the safety management system of public works and adopt a multi-pronged approach by implementing measures on various fronts, including project design, tender evaluation, contract provisions, works supervision, technology application, regulation of contractors, as well as publicity and promotion, with a view to uplifting site safety performance.
The Government has aimed to re-shape the site safety culture in collaboration with the industry stakeholders in recent years. To this end, resources have been allocated to various initiatives. Also, we are actively promoting the use of new construction methods and innovative technologies to uplift site safety and enhance safety management, and providing training to practitioners. This time, I have invited colleagues from the Works Branch and the Water Supplies Department (WSD) to take us to the Tseung Kwan O (TKO) Desalination Plant to learn how the “Smart Site Safety System” (SSSS) performs.
Smart Site Safety System
Deputy Secretary (Works) of the Development Bureau (DEVB), Mr Roger WONG, says that the DEVB has launched the SSSS in individual public works contracts since 2020. Currently, the first phase pilot implementation, running in eight public works contracts with different nature, is almost completed.
According to Chief Engineer of the WSD, Mr LIN Tang-tai, construction works are characterised by high mobility of workers, frequent changes in the working environment, and different contractors carrying out works on the same site concurrently. These factors may increase the potential risk of having accidents on site.
The SSSS set up by the project team at the site of TKO Desalination Plant can collect real-time data and transfer the data to a centralized management platform, so that the project team can grasp the situation of the entire construction site. Whenever a potential hazard is detected, the system will immediately alert the safety management staff and workers on site. Besides, the centralized management platform can collect site safety performance data for further analysis and provide the project team with more information about the site situations for formulating targeted safety measures.
Virtual reality (VR) safety training
Training plays a vital role in construction safety. At present, virtual reality (VR) kits for site safety training, including those jointly developed by the DEVB and the Construction Industry Council (CIC), have been widely used at construction sites. Through simulated accident scenarios, which are highly lifelike, workers can experience the risk of high-risk activities and the serious consequences of accidents, thereby raising their safety awareness.
Monitoring high-risk activities with smart devices
At the site of the TKO Desalination Plant, the project team adopts smart devices to monitor high-risk activities to enhance safety performance. For example, if an unauthorised worker enters a danger zone mistakenly, his smart safety helmet and smart watch will send an alert to the safety management staff and the worker. Alarms will also be set off if a worker stays too long in a confined space. In addition, the worker can seek assistance from others through his smart watch in case of emergency.
Panoramic collision prevention and surveillance system
The project team has also set up a panoramic collision prevention and surveillance system on heavy construction machinery in order to effectively eradicate blind spots during its operation. For instance, if the system’s sensor detects a worker within the operating area of a heavy construction machinery, the alarm of the system will alert the plant operator inside the operation cabin and the worker inside the operating area.
Pressing ahead with the implementation of Smart Site Safety System
With the proven effectiveness of the SSSS under various pilot contracts, the DEVB will press ahead with the second phase, so that the system can be adopted in public works contracts with contract sum exceeding $30 million starting early next year.
Construction Innovation and Technology Fund
As for private construction sites, the Construction Innovation and Technology Fund (CITF) established in 2018 provides subsidies to the industry for purchasing and adopting of smart technologies to uplift site safety and enhance productivity.
The Executive Director of the CIC, Mr Albert CHENG, says that the CIC has been supporting and encouraging the industry to actively adopt innovative technologies to uplift site safety. In January 2022, the funding ceiling for each safety-related technology in CITF has been increased significantly from $0.8 million to $2 million, while the limit for each company has been raised to $6 million.
We will collaborate with the CIC to implement the SSSS. In the meantime, the CIC will gather more examples of the SSSS for reference by the construction industry. The adoption of the SSSS will be subsidised by the CITF. It is hoped that we can complete our work in the first half of next year.
Looking forward, innovative technologies will play the vital role in the construction industry for marching towards the golden era of infrastructure in the next decade. To achieve the goal of “zero accidents”, the construction industry should continue to adopt innovative technologies and take multi-pronged approach for uplifting site safety.
2 October, 2022Back