Harsher fines are to be introduced by the Labor Affairs Bureau (DSAL) in order to deal with occupational safety law. According to the chief of DSAL’s Occupational Safety and Health Department Lam Iok Cheong, new legislation is currently being drafted. The present regulations stipulate fines ranging from MOP1,000 to 5,000 when construction safety rules are violated.
“The regulations on construction safety and hygiene were made in 1991. We are now drafting the regulations on occupational safety and health. The penalty will be adjusted. We already have the initial draft. We hope to have public consultation and discussion as soon as possible,” Lam told TDM.
Macau has experienced an increasing number of serious accidents at construction sites recently. DSAL estimates that 800 construction workers were injured in Macau last year, totalling 100 more injuries compared to 2013.
In 2012, over 500 people were injured in construction site accidents. Two deaths were reported just last month. On January 20, one worker was killed after the mobile crane he was working in collapsed. Prior to this, another laborer was run over by a mobile crane at Coloane’s Ka Ho Port and died.
Lam Iok Cheong attributes the accidents partly to the complexity of large-scale constructions and partly the overwhelming pressure to meet deadlines which construction companies often face. But the head of department at DSAL stated that cases of occupational safety law violation – like lack of fences or protective wear – are regularly spotted.
“The works are large in scale and complexity. There is also a time limit on the work. As workers need to rush, they usually neglect their own safety. Contractors also want to rush, and may also overlook safety at the sites,” she told TDM.