Despite Hong Kong’s predominantly modern architecture, it still sticks with the old reliables to get things done.
One of them is the preferred use of bamboo scaffolding over steel counterparts in construction or renovation of high-rise residential blocks or commercial buildings. So the question many people ask is: why does Hong Kong prefer bamboo over steel for this very purpose?
Cost. Time. Durability.
Why Hong Kong Prefers Bamboo Over Steel Scaffolding
These attractive factors made bamboo scaffolding an overwhelming choice in Hong Kong over steel materials.
- Cost-effectiveness: Bamboo scaffolding is relatively inexpensive compared to other scaffolding materials such as steel or aluminum. Hong Kong has a high demand for construction due to its dense urban environment, and bamboo provides a cost-effective solution for construction companies.
- Availability and sustainability: Bamboo is abundantly available in the region, particularly in the nearby areas such as southern China. It is a fast-growing and renewable resource, making it an environmentally friendly option. Its availability ensures a steady supply of scaffolding materials for construction projects in Hong Kong.
- Lightweight and flexible: Bamboo scaffolding is lightweight and highly flexible, which makes it suitable for navigating the narrow streets and alleys of Hong Kong’s crowded urban areas. It can be easily transported and maneuvered, allowing construction workers to set up scaffolding quickly and efficiently.
- Strength and durability: While bamboo may seem delicate, it possesses impressive strength and durability when used in the right way. It has been used in construction for centuries and has proven to withstand the rigors of Hong Kong’s typhoons and earthquakes. Properly erected and maintained bamboo scaffolding can provide a safe working platform for workers.
- Tradition and cultural significance: Bamboo scaffolding is deeply rooted in the traditional construction practices of Hong Kong and many other parts of Asia. It carries cultural significance and is seen as a symbol of craftsmanship and heritage. Some builders and clients prefer bamboo scaffolding for its aesthetic appeal and connection to local traditions.
- Assembly and take down times: Time is significant in Hong Kong, and bamboo scaffolding has this advantage over steel. It is six times faster to put up and 12 times faster to take down.
Scaffolding Accidents in Hong Kong
- In 2021, there were 11 scaffolding accidents in Hong Kong, resulting in 6 deaths and 12 injuries.
- In 2020, there were 13 scaffolding accidents in Hong Kong, resulting in 7 deaths and 14 injuries.
- In 2019, there were 12 scaffolding accidents in Hong Kong, resulting in 5 deaths and 13 injuries.
These statistics show that scaffolding accidents are a serious problem in Hong Kong. They highlight the need for improved safety regulations and better training for scaffolding workers.
Here are some of the factors that contribute to scaffolding accidents:
- Lack of training: Many scaffolding workers are not properly trained in how to erect and maintain scaffolding safely.
- Use of substandard materials: Scaffolding is often made from substandard materials, such as bamboo, that is not strong enough to support the weight of workers and materials.
- Poor weather conditions: Scaffolding can be more dangerous in wet and windy weather conditions.
- Human error: Human error is often a factor in scaffolding accidents. This can include things like overloading scaffolding, not using safety equipment, and not following safety procedures.
The Hong Kong government has introduced several measures to improve the safety of scaffolding, including:
- Requiring scaffolding to be inspected by a qualified person before it is used.
- Providing training for scaffolding workers.
- Enforcing safety regulations.
However, more must be done to improve scaffolding safety in Hong Kong. The government needs to continue to invest in safety measures and to enforce safety regulations. Employers must provide their workers with the training and equipment they need to work safely. And workers need to be aware of the risks involved in working on scaffolding and take steps to avoid accidents.
But to those who are interested yet still unnerved by the fact that they’ll be climbing buildings dozens of stories high over flimsy-looking frames classified by botanists as grass, tethered together only by nylon strips, veteran academy instructor Tang Sung-yuen has a bit of simple advice: Don’t look down when you’re up there.