• A premier cultural development, West Kowloon is worthy of Hong Kong’s leading safety award

    4 September 2017

     

    An astounding safety record and collaborative programme to empower its contractors sees West Kowloon Cultural District Authority claim the gold Derek Smyth Safety Leadership Award.

    Each year the best of Hong Kong’s construction industry is lauded and awarded at the Lighthouse Club’s Derek Smyth Safety Leadership Awards. The awards programme and high-profile ceremony are Hong Kong’s premier recognition for businesses investing in workplace safety. They acknowledge leadership and excellence in safety. This year’s worthy winner defines “high-profile” and “premier”.

    The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) was this year’s winner of the Derek Smyth Safety Leadership Gold Award in the Client Developer Category. The WKCDA is one of the world’s biggest cultural complexes, spread across about 40 hectares of largely reclaimed land, the HK$21.6-billion project was first mooted in 1998. Through a series of consultations and revisions, the complex is now closer to being a reality than ever before.

    Some HK$12 billion of work has been awarded to date and the timelines for a core trio of the features have been confirmed. The Xiqu Centre, a showcase venue for Chinese opera, is on track to be ready next year. Freespace is an open-air venue that includes a stage and an indoor theatre that will be ready one year later, in 2019. The third venue, the Lyric Theatre Complex, is likely to be ready in 2021. The plan for West Kowloon also includes the M+ Museum, an internationally recognised museum and gallery space, and the Art Park, another venue comprising the 23 hectares of open space – including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade – at the site.

    Pulling all of these projects together are more than 2,500 workers, working in collaboration under the strong leadership of the WKCDA. The headline for the Authority – and a pivotal reason for the Gold Award – is an astonishing safety performance of 0.05 reportable accidents per 100,000 man-hours worked. The Authority had initially set a target of 0.25 reportable accidents per 100,000 man-hours, which in itself, was a challenging goal.

    Collaboration the Key

    “One of the attitudes I took very early on is about the ‘Four C’s’ of collaboration, cooperation, no conflict and no claims,” says Jeremy Stowe, the Director, Project Control of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

    “If you were to go and interview our contractors I think they would say, ‘Remarkable. West Kowloon is a very collaborative and cooperative organisation’ “,  Stowe continues, stating, “ The Authority had never before been awarded a works contract, never worked with the contractors in the industry, and they did not know how we worked as a client, and therefore I had a tremendous opportunity to roll this out (the Four C’s approach) from day one.”

    Stowe joined the Authority in March 2012. An Architect and a career construction professional in both the public and private sector, he has worked on some of the biggest projects in Hong Kong: the Hong Kong International Airport, KCR West Rail which is now known as the West Rail Line, and with MTR Corporation.

    He joined the Authority from the Meinhardt Group, an Engineering and Management organisation with its roots in the Australian construction scene that has grown to become one of the biggest independent consulting firms globally. Stowe took charge of Project Control at the Authority in May last year.

    Stowe says the cornerstone of the Authority’s safety effort has been in removing the barriers between contractors and client. It’s not by luck that the Authority has landed the Derek Smyth Safety Leadership Award.

    “There’s an incredibly friendly atmosphere on site. We’ve put a lot of effort into it, to listen to contractors, to talk to them about their issues on site, and safety is part of that, it’s not exclusive, it’s a part of that process,” Stowe says. “We’ve always made a point of sharing our statistics with them, of sharing with them all of the other information about all our respective sites.”

    The approach uses the power of positivity, promising positive publicity, providing contractors access to senior management – the chief executive and chief operating officer are based on site – and rewarding performance with pay. The Authority’s Safety Management Systems are in place at each of its projects, including the Pay for Safety Scheme, the Safety Incentive Scheme and Safety Performance Award.

    Keeping Score

    The safety programme includes many of the features Lighthouse Club members will recognise: monthly meetings between client and contractor where safety is always top of the agenda, scheduled weekly site clean-ups, awards schemes for high-performing individuals and paid-for staff social gatherings, where workers’ familieas  are encouraged to join in.

    Aside from these tactics, there are the hard financial incentives to ensure site safety. The Authority’s board was adamant safety would be central to the contracting process.

    “You can make a big thing of it,” Stowe tells the Lighthouse Club. “Every time we awarded a contract we looked at the safety record of the contractors. When we interviewed them, we would talk about safety, not just laying out a policy. We made a big thing about it. It showed to them that safety meant something to us. It showed that we care.

    The care aspect to it is not just words on a piece a paper. They saw early on that we cared and they got on board during the tender process. Some contractors responded well, some didn’t. We like to think the contractors that came on board were those that responded very well to the safety side of what we put on the tenders.”

    Best Yet to Come

    With 12 works contracts issued to date at West Kowloon, five contracts currently underway and dozens more to come over the next few years, more than 8.5 million man-hours has already been invested. On such an immense project, spread over a large area, supervision is central to ensuring safety. With a safety team of four, managing safety is a matter of efficiency.

    Max Lee is the Project Manager (Health and Safety) for the Project Control Department West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. Lee was responsible for arranging the paperwork for the Authority’s awards application.

    Lee said a unique division of labour meant some 90 resident site staff were employed to walk the site and highlight potential issues before they became problems. The resident site staff are full-time, working with the contractors, and report back through the Authority. Stowe is kept in the loop with each identified issue and has the option of escalating it to his chief executive.

    For the Authority, charged with delivering a game-changing piece of infrastructure for the people of Hong Kong, the Derek Smyth Safety Leadership Gold Award is an important recognition.

    The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chief executive Duncan Pescod said he was delighted to have won the award. “This is a recognition of our commitment to putting safety at the core of everything we do,” he said. “It is also a heartening sign that our efforts to work with our contractors and their subcontractors to achieve the standards of safety we want are effective. We must all continue to work hard to ensure that our workplaces are safe for everyone.”

    We at the Lighthouse Club agree and wish he and his staff all the best in delivering a world-class infrastructure, safely.

     

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