Investigation Underway After Fatal Biogas Leak in Hong Kong Construction Site
Unnoticed Tragedy: Two Workers Found Dead in Hong Kong Construction Site
The Hong Kong community is mourning the loss of two workers, Liu Haoxiang, 63, and Guo Huoji, 61, who recently succumbed to a suspected biogas leak at a construction site managed by Hong Kong’s railway operator, MTR Corporation. The victims’ family members have voiced concerns of negligence, questioning how the deaths seemingly went unnoticed overnight.
MTR Corporation and Contractor Responses
In response to the incident, the MTR Corporation has committed to fully investigate the circumstances, including the procedures and reporting mechanisms of the contractors involved. The corporation will also fully cooperate with government department investigations. Both families of the deceased workers will be provided with emergency funds of HKD 100,000 each through the Hong Kong Construction Association. The air conditioning contractor, Shuaijian Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, has also pledged full cooperation with the Labour Department’s investigation and has arranged to disburse a total of HKD 200,000 in relief funds.
Timeline of the Incident
Preliminary investigations suggest that the workers were repairing water pipes at the site around 10am. The project manager left the site without completing a safety assessment. By 4pm when the project manager returned, the workers could not be found. Another engineer attempted to locate the workers around 5pm, but the pipeline was locked. The workers were eventually found unconscious in the pipeline around 7am the following day and later pronounced dead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Hydrogen Sulfide: A Silent Killer
The fire department detected an excessive concentration of hydrogen sulfide at the site. Hydrogen sulfide, a component commonly found in biogas, is highly flammable and toxic, even at low concentrations. A professor from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Biomedical Sciences explained that hydrogen sulfide is heavier than air and tends to accumulate in low places. High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide can cause respiratory discomfort, unconsciousness, and even immediate death.
Public Outcry and Calls for Thorough Investigation
The incident has prompted concern from labour union representatives and a legislator. They highlighted the need for better communication with workers in confined spaces and stricter monitoring of air and safety conditions. They also called for a thorough investigation and strict pursuit of responsibility. They voiced doubts over whether the workers would have died if they had been found the day before.
The Importance of Health and Safety Standards
The tragic incident underscores the importance of maintaining health and safety standards in the workplace, particularly in high-risk environments such as construction sites. Industry experts have voiced their concerns, stating that existing protocols require contractors to closely monitor the whereabouts and safety of personnel working underground. The incident serves as a stark reminder of the deadly consequences that can result from breaches in safety protocol and negligence.
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