Paper for the Bills Committee on the Occupational Safety and Health Bill
This paper provides the Administration's response to the outstanding issues regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Bill (OSHB) following the last meeting on 25 February 1997.
I. Proposal to provide appropriate protection for the safety and health of persons other than the drivers working in a vehicle
2. The Administration accepts that when a vehicle is in the public place and the employees therein are not actually being the drivers or the passengers, they should be covered by the OSHB when they are at work, e.g. those who enforce the by-laws or provide a service inside various types of public transport carriers. In this connection the Administration proposes that the Committee Stage Amendments (CSA) to the OSHB at annex A should be introduced. The Labour Advisory Board (LAB) also accepts the revised coverage.
II. Results of consultation with the Labour Advisory Board regarding the Bills Committee's suggestion to amend clauses 6, 7 and 8
3. The LAB met on 10 March 1997 to consider the Bills Committee's suggestion to amend clauses 6, 7 and 8 of the OSHB. Among other proposed amendments to the OSHB, it agreed :
- to include a penalty clause for breach of the general duties provision by an employer or occupier of premises similar to those specified under sections 6A of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (FIUO), Chapter 59;
- to introduce general duties provisions for employees and corresponding penalties similar to those under section 6B of the FIUO, and
- that implementation of the new penalty clauses for employers and employees in (a) and (b) above should be deferred for a period of 12 months after the enactment of the OSHB.
4. A one-year grace period is considered necessary so that employers, employees and the Government can have sufficient time to prepare themselves in terms of education and promotion activities and to understand the compliance standards.
III. Regarding the draft amendments to clauses 6, 7 and 8 discussed at the meeting on 25 February, further amendments to be proposed by the Administration to incorporate appropriate provisions to bring the Bill in line with the FIUO
5. After taking into account the suggestion of the Bills Committee and the advice of the LAB in paragraph 3, the Administration proposes to introduce the CSA at annex B to amend clauses 6, 7 and 8 of the OSHB to bring them in line with the FIUO.
IV. Rationale for the grace period for implementation of the Bill
6. Under the OSHB, the Commissioner for Labour may, by notice in the gazette, set the date on which the regulations to be made under it is to come into effect. The first set of such regulation, namely the Occupational Safety and Health Regulation (OSHR), provides for the general safety and health protection of the workplace as well as manual handling operations. The Administration has originally proposed a grace period of 12 months in order to allow adequate time for employers and employees to prepare themselves, and the Labour Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Council to prepare codes of practice, guidance materials on compliance standards and to mount a public education and promotion programme.
7. In response to the Bills Committee's suggestion to consider shortening the grace period, the Administration does not envisage any difficulty in setting the general safety, health and welfare standards of workplaces since they will be generally similar to those covered in the FIUO. Indeed, the working environment in the majority of premises under the non-industrial sector is much better than that of the industrial sector. We are prepared to accept six months as the grace period to enable employers, occupiers of premises and employees to familiarise themselves with the new regulation and make the necessary preparations. On the provisions relating to manual handling operations, we consider, however, that a full 12 months is required because the preparations for all parties concerned are much more involved and specific due to the technical nature of the subject and the lead time required to develop self-help kits for different major trades which may need adjustments to their operations.
8. The LAB was consulted and agreed to the proposed revision to the grace period at its meeting on 10 March 1997. The Administration therefore proposes to implement the provisions of the OSHR concerning the general safety, health and welfare of a workplace after a grace period of six months and the other provisions regarding manual handling operations after 12 months.
V. Written responses to submissions of deputations who were present at the meeting on 24 January 1997
9. The Administration already made written responses to the submissions of deputations on 3 March 1997 and copied them to the Clerk of the Bills Committee.
Education and Manpower Branch
Last Updated on 30 November 1998