Students can experience being knocked down by an iron bar or witness an explosion caused by volatile gases at the Hong Kong Institute of Construction’s Safety Experience Training Centre.
The first of its kind in Hong Kong, the 3,000 sq ft facility in Kwai Chung features eight training zones where students can interactively learn about the common hazards or causes of accidents at construction sites at its Virtual Reality Cave.
At its Chemical & Electrical Safety Zone, students can also see how wires overheat and even feel a slight electric shock.
The institute hopes the students can enhance their safety awareness through such simulation-based training.
“We do not want to see any casualties in the industry. Moreover, if the construction environment is not safe, parents are reluctant to let the young people join the industry. So we attach special importance to safety training,” the institute’s Director Francis Wong said.
A step ahead
The institute was established in October 2018 and offers more than 200 full-time and short courses.
It aims to nurture a workforce with theoretical knowledge, professional skills, innovative ideas and safety awareness, and has been introducing innovative technological teaching elements, such as the use of simulators for welding courses.
Supervising Instructor (Welding) Chung Kai-man said the simulators provide students with a safe learning environment.
“In the past, when students were learning to weld, the sparks held them back. But with this simulator they can practise their skills safely. They already know how to control the welding track and speed at the construction site.”
The institute said the courses aim to attract secondary students to the sector and help those in the field upgrade their skills.
Chung Sze-ki learnt to install a billboard with a simulator during a 50-day crane operation course.
“When I looked at the models at home, I originally thought cranes are easy to control. In fact, the bricks and iron bars are huge and I was afraid of them bumping into me. The simulator helps me to control them better.”
Her coursemate Mok Wei-wu is a veteran with more than a decade’s experience in the construction industry.
Wanting to upgrade his skills, Mr Mok recently resigned from his job to join the course.
“If I continue to move and lift heavy objects at a construction site, I will gradually suffer from strains and one day lose my strength,” he said.
“I hope to become a crane operator so I will not be exposed to the sun and rain. Plus, my salary will be higher too.”
The institute is keeping in step with technological advancements in the construction industry’s work equipment.
Its Director Mr Wong said: “The most expensive construction cost, in terms of per square meter, is New York. Hong Kong comes next.
“Introducing new construction machines and techniques will lower the construction costs, enhance the productivity as well as the working environment in terms of safety.”
The 2019-20 Budget allocated $200 million to expand the apprenticeship scheme for the construction industry.
The institute expects to train 1,100 knowledge-based workers in the next one to two years, and increase allowances within five years to help 4,000 workers upgrade their skills.