Strengthened regulating actions against contractors for uplifting site safety

The spokesman for the Development Bureau (DEVB) said today (December 15) that the DEVB attaches great importance to site safety. It issued a technical circular and an updated Contractor Management Handbook on November 23 and disseminated them to works departments and the industry, promulgating the strengthened regulating measures over approved contractors which have had serious incidents or have been convicted of violations of site safety legislation.
On public works, the DEVB, being the party to procure construction services, could impose regulating actions against contractors under the List of Approved Contractors for Public Works and the List of Approved Suppliers of Materials and Specialist Contractors for Public Works (the Lists), including suspension from tendering or even removal from the Lists, pursuant to the Contractor Management Handbook.  On tendering of public works contracts, the strengthened regulating measures include:
(1) When the DEVB decides to suspend contractors from tendering, the decision is not confined to future tender exercises, but is also applicable to tender exercises with procedures initiated but not concluded. In other words, tenders submitted by contractors will not be accepted if they are suspended from tendering due to poor site safety performance at any point of time between the tender closing date and tender award date;
(2) When the contractor has systemic deficiencies in an operation of a serious incident in a particular works category, the DEVB not only could impose regulating actions (mainly suspension from tendering) against the contractor on a particular works category concerned, but also other works categories which the contractor is listed; and
(3) Clear indications of the respective works categories of which contractors are being regulated on the webpage of the DEVB to enhance transparency. 
Moreover, whether or not a contractor is qualified to compete for public works projects, the Buildings Department (BD) will regulate through a system of registration for contractors, which includes consideration of whether a registration should be accepted, renewed, as well as if disciplinary action is to be taken. On renewal of registration, if an applicant has a record of suspension from tendering for public works or works of the Hong Kong Housing Authority because of factors related to site safety, technical competence and management ability, or a conviction record for offences involving serious labour safety, the application will be referred to the Contractors Registration Committee (CRC) for interviews and assessment, to assist the BD in considering whether to accept, defer or reject the application. To strengthen the regulation of registered contractors, the BD will also consider referring an application to the CRC for interviews and assessment when a registered contractor is involved in serious labour safety incidents at a construction site, regardless of whether the contractor has been convicted.
Furthermore, under section 13 of the Buildings Ordinance (BO), the BD may bring to the notice of a disciplinary board in relation to a registered contractor if the contractor has been convicted by any court of an offence relating to building works, or has been negligent or has misconducted himself in building works. Where, after due inquiry, the disciplinary board is satisfied that the registered contractor has been convicted or has been negligent or has misconducted himself, the disciplinary board may, under section 13(4) of the BO, order the name of the registered contractor to be removed from the relevant register, either permanently or for such period as the disciplinary board thinks fit; the registered contractor be fined a sum not exceeding $250,000; or be reprimanded. A referral system has been set up between the BD and the Labour Department in which the latter will refer to the BD for consideration of disciplinary action against a registered contractor involved in a serious labour safety incident at a construction site.
The spokesman added that uplifting site safety requires the involvement of all industry stakeholders. Apart from the regulatory regime, the Government will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to uplift site safety performance, including promoting a site safety culture and encouraging the adoption of innovative technologies.
Ends/Thursday, December 15, 2022
Issued at HKT 23:54