Death of two Hong Kong sewer workers triggers renewed calls for action to poke safety gaps on sites

“Sadly, a important incident has came about all over again prior to the revised code has been implemented,” the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims said on Tuesday.

“We’re very offended regarding the frequent occurrence of fatal incidents in confined spaces.”

The two men, passe 26 and 34, had been stumbled on unconscious internal a four-metre-deep (13 feet) manhole. The pair had been cleaning drains at Yuen Wo Playground in Sha Tin with two assorted colleagues.

One other colleague alerted police true prior to middle of the night that the pair had misplaced consciousness underground. Firefighters rescued the pair, who had been taken to Prince of Wales Neatly being facility in Sha Tin but licensed useless shortly after arrival.

Police said the reason for demise might perchance perchance well be optimistic by a postmortem examination. Initial investigations suggested the pair had handed out after inhaling the gasoline.

The Labour Department said it used to be conducting an on-situation investigation.

“We can entire the investigation as shortly as doable to title the reason for the accident, ascertain the prison responsibility of the responsibility holders and counsel enchancment measures,” a department spokesman said.

“We can grasp actions pursuant to the legislation if there is any violation of the work safety legislation.”

The incident at Yuen Wo Playground in Sha Tin left two men useless. Photo: Jelly Tse

Construction minister Bernadette Linn Hon-ho suggested lawmakers on Tuesday that workers did not have to enter the sewers below identical outdated procedures, and had been most productive required to exhaust a high-stress hosepipe to super the drains from outdoors.

She said a key focal level of the investigation would why the men had gone underground.

The 34-three hundred and sixty five days-venerable sufferer’s father also puzzled why the pair had been working within the manhole. “Why did they let folk trail in?” he said.

The contractor had equipped to give the family with HK$500,000 in abet, he suggested local media, adding it used to be no longer ample to duvet their each day lifestyles.

Labour authorities had been revising the code of apply for safety and smartly being at work in confined spaces after two workers had been killed final September by a suspected biogas leak underground at a construction situation managed by railway operator the MTR Company.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Chris Solar Yuk-han said on Tuesday night that his bureau and police had joined hands to compare the accident .

He said the revised code might perchance perchance well be ready for originate in one to two months and would comprise more technological skill to toughen work safety internal manholes.

The affiliation said that prior to working in a manhole, a rigorous threat evaluation wishes to be implemented to be determined no unknown gases had been internal.

It suggested workers to wear safety belts and lifestyles ropes for a smartly timed spoil out, and known as on the Drainage Products and services Department to be determined contractors complied with pointers and regulations.

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The affiliation also suggested the authorities to make it compulsory below the revised code for contractors to post venture studies to the Labour Department in map, including work declare, construction dates and safety plans, to be determined authorities had been suggested and should mute behavior inspections.

A union also accused the authorities of failing to poke safety loopholes over time no topic a equivalent case within the a similar space almost two a long time ago.

“The Drainage Products and services Department has no longer realized the painful lesson and tragedy has came about all over again 18 years later,” the Hong Kong Constructing Industry Workers Usual Union said.

Two workers, both passe 46, died in a sewer manhole, also on Yuen Wo Boulevard in Sha Tin on August 1, 2006.

Investigators suspected one man inhaled methane gasoline and handed out and his colleague then went into the manhole to rescue him but additionally fell unconscious.

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A Drainage Products and services Department inquiry stumbled on that the principle contractor had subcontracted work and performed work outdoors the supposed space with out permission, and failed to grab important precautions to provide protection to the workers.

“The Labour Department have to seriously learn the demanding lessons from assorted industrial accidents, review the loopholes in supervision and enforcement as shortly as doable, make up for deficiencies and enhance supervision and inspection,” the union said.

A string of industrial incidents had been reported within the past few years.

On December 22, 2021, two workers died after being pulled unconscious from a manhole at a construction situation advance Hong Kong airport.

The two men – Fan Chu-leung, 34, and Zhao Gao, 38 – had been pronounced useless in smartly being facility, whereas three colleagues who tried to rescue them complained of feeling in sad health after inhaling suspected toxic sewage gases.

The five workers had been despatched to the situation by their company to develop cleaning work and gape the manhole, in accordance with a police provide.

2 Hong Kong construction workers die after being pulled from manhole

The insider said an preliminary investigation suggested suspected sewage gasoline and water spilled into the manhole when two of them had been hiking down. The pair then fell about 2.5 metres to the bottom of the manhole.

On November 18, 2021, a girl died and three men had been seriously injured after falling into an eight-metre-deep manhole at a sewage treatment plant on Lantau Island.

Firefighters stumbled on the girl lying face down at the bottom of the manhole, in sewage water about 50cm deep, whereas the three men had been trapped on a piece platform six metres below ground level.

On January 7, 2020, three workers had been suspected of inhaling an unknown gasoline whereas working in a manhole in Tuen Mun. One used to be rescued by firefighters after falling into a coma prior to later regaining consciousness.