Legislator asks for harsher sanctions for construction site safety violations

Legislator Leong Sun Iok today urged at the legislative Assembly plenary session for the Macau government to increase oversight of construction site safety and harsher sanctions for safety violations, following a work accident in Cotai that resulted in three deaths.

The collapse of a lift shaft on Tuesday at the construction site of Galaxy Macau Phase 3 and 4 expansion works in Cotai resulted in three deaths and four injuries.

The victims were non-resident construction workers, with the youngest only 19 years old.

The Labour Affairs Bureau (DSAL) ordered the suspension of works and after an investigation deemed work conditions as unsafe and hazardous, and proceeding with sanctions for the company responsible.

“The Government stresses several times that it will reinforce its inspection and application of the law to ensure occupational safety. However, the number of work-related accidents has been very high in Macau and last year there were 6,625, of which seven died and 21 are unable to work for a long period of time. Two of these deaths were linked to occupational safety and health violations,” the directly elected legislator noted.

Leong stated that the current civil construction safety regulations have been in force for 20 years and are “seriously outdated”.

As an example, the legislator noted that fines for contractors’ infringements vary only between MOP2,500 (US$312) and MOP15,000, the same values in force in the early 1990s “unlikely” to serve as a deterrent.

“In recent years, many contractors accelerated the work, to meet the deadline for completion of the works and avoid the payment of the penal clause, therefore, with the low costs of violating the law, it is possible that neglect the safety of their workers,” he added.

The legislator connected with the Macau Federation of Trade Unions (FAOM) to strengthen sanctions for infringements; increase the number of security supervisors; define the registration and registration regime of the staff and clarify responsibilities.

Leong also urged authorities to implement periodic training and mandatory assessment to ensure that supervisors of safety have sufficient capacity and most up to date knowledge about work security.

“DSAL has long proposed to revise the law on health and safety occupational, for example, the increase in the number of inspectors and the introduction of the registration and enrollment of security personnel, but no progress has yet been seen, therefore, it was ‘light rain for such a strong thunderstorm'”, the legislator noted.