Working at height without proper use of ladder and working platform is a major contributory factor to accidents which are caused by "falling from height". Table A shows the record of occupational injuries in all workplaces in Hong Kong in 2014. The record is a clear evident that "Working at Height" is a high risk activity! A total of 1,219 work-related injuries, including 23 fatalities, were caused by "falling of person from height".
In Hong Kong, using ladders and stepladders for working at height are not banned under the law. However, use of substandard ladders and working platform at work is definitely dangerous, and is in violation of legal requirements and the University safety policy. During the period from June to November 2015, a total of 114 substandard ladders and 5 substandard working platforms were found at various workplaces for repair, maintenance, installation and decoration at height on campus. In fact, most of these substandard ladders/working platforms were owned by contractors appointed by the Facilities Management Office and some other departments/offices for event preparation.
It shows that safety culture and safety awareness at work need to be further improved. Implementation of safety management programs and continuous monitoring at work should also be enhanced in order to minimaze the risk of accident.
Examples of unsafe practice when using ladder:
Source: Construction Industry Council Safety Alert No. 003/13 - Avoid Using Ladders for Working at Height in Repair, Maintenance, Alteration and Addition Works.
The Chapter 509 – Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance imposes a "general duty of care" on employers, occupiers of premises and employees. It reminds us that "preventing people from being harmed by work is everyone’s responsibility" in the University. Staff members who have responsibility in managing contractor's work in the University must take a proactive approach to make sure that the contractors have fulfilled the legal requirements as well as the requirements of the University’s safety policy.
According to the legislative requirement Chapter: 59I CONSTRUCTION SITES (SAFETY) REGULATIONS;
- Regulation: 38AA Duty of other contractors to ensure safety of places of Work (1) Without prejudice to the other provisions of this Part, any contractor who has direct control over any construction work shall, so far as reasonably practicable-
(a) identify the hazardous conditions of persons working at a height in the construction work;
(b) rectify any hazardous conditions of persons working at a height in the construction work; and
(c) safeguard any person working at a height in the construction work against all hazardous conditions.
- Regulation: 38B Prevention of falls: any contractor who has direct control over any construction work shall take adequate steps to prevent any person on any place where the construction work is being carried out from falling from a height of 2 metres or more.
"adequate steps" (足夠的步驟) shall include the provision, use and maintenance of one or more of the following-
(a) working platforms;
(b) guard-rails, barriers, toe-boards and fences;
(c) coverings for openings;
(d) gangways and runs.
If you spot unsafe use of ladders on campus, please don't hesitate to contact the Security Office (ext.6565) or Health, Safety and Environment Office (ext.6512) promptly for immediate action.