Two subcontractors involved in the world’s longest sea crossing linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macau were on Monday fined HK$30,000 (US$3,870) each over an accident in 2017 that claimed two lives and injured three others.
WSS Engineering Systems and United Construction & Manpower Service were convicted of failing to ensure safety and health of employees at the site of the mega bridge in Lantau.
In passing the verdict, Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan said as the two firms provided workers for the project’s three main contractors – Dragages Hong Kong, China Harbour Engineering Company and VSL Hong Kong – they had a duty to impose measures to safeguard employee safety.
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He said the two subcontractors had “turned a blind eye” to working conditions. “A safe system of work had not been provided to the workers.”
However, engineering consultant Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong was acquitted of failing to provide and maintain a safe plant and system of work, as well as necessary safety training and supervision for on-site workers. Its engineer Wong Kwan-ho was also cleared of the charge of wilfully endangering workers.
Lam said Arup was not a “proprietor” under the law, and therefore it had no control over the management of the workers.
The three main contractors already pleaded guilty to 27 breaches of occupational safety in January last year and were fined a total of HK$614,000.
The West Kowloon Court heard that on March 29, 2017, the workers at the bridge had been hooked to a temporary working platform with harnesses, underneath a viaduct off Tai O on Lantau Island. When that platform suddenly collapsed into the sea, they were pulled down with it.
The fall killed two workers – Gurung Anel and Onwuka Okomba Onwuka Uka – while three suffered multiple injuries.
In total, 10 workers died and more than 600 were injured in 275 accidents between 2011 – when work began on the bridge – and August 2018.