The Administration's response to issues raised at the meeting of the Bill's Committee on the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1999 on 30 March 1999

Item (a): Members suggested reimbursement of the whole or part of the course fees to participants (or the sponsoring employers or trade associations) on satisfactory completion of the safety training courses organized by CITA.

The Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) noted that whilst the Members' suggestion might overcome the anticipated problem of absenteeism by enrolled trainees if the safety training course was free, the first two reasons mentioned in the Administration's response dated 29 March 1999 remain valid. CITA stressed that offering the already heavily subsidised safety training course free of charge would impose a very heavy financial burden on the resources of the Authority. Also there has never been any complaints that the $100 course fee being charged is deterring construction workers from attending the safety training course. CITA reiterated that it is prepared to waive the course fee on CSSA recipients intending to enroll on the course upon the production of proof.

Item (b): The Administration to provide quarterly accident statistics in the past three years in industrial undertakings, with a breakdown and analysis by type of industrial undertakings, type of accidents and severity of injuries.

The statistics for the four quarters in 1996 and 1997 and the first three quarters of 1998 are given in the Annex. The full year statistics for 1998 will only be available later this month. The statistics provided in the Annex are arranged by industry and by type of accidents (known as "Cause of Accidents" in 1996 and 1997). The Labour Department does not have an analysis of such accidents by severity of injuries.

Item (c): The Administration to explain why there is a substantial increase in the number of accidents in industrial undertakings in the 3rd quarter of 1998.

Based on the experience and observations of the Labour Department, the number of industrial accidents usually shows an increase in the second and third quarters of a year. We believe that this phenomenon could likely be due to the climate in this time of the year which is hot and humid and when rainfall is more frequent. Working in a hot and humid environment would make it easier for a worker to feel tired or exhausted and hence less alert to potential dangers at work. The rainy season also creates additional hazard for outdoor workers. Also, in the months in these two quarters, there are more working days than other months (e.g. the long Chinese New Year holidays fall in the 1st quarter) and this increased working time may also result in more work injuries.

Item (d): The Administration to provide a breakdown on the 8 fatal accidents in the 3rd quarter of 1998 by type of industrial undertakings.

According to the statistical table on number of industrial accidents provided to Members on 30.3.99, there were 8 fatal accidents in the "Mining and Quarrying, Utilities, Transport and Servicing Industries" for the first three quarters of 1998 (not the 3rd quarter of 1998). A breakdown of these 8 cases by type of industrial undertakings is as follows:

Type of IndustryNo. of Cases
Mining and quarrying1
Repair of motor vehicle1
Other repair services2

Item (e): The Administration to consider whether the manufacturing industry should be subject to less stringent requirements for safety management in view of its lower accident rate and different operation from the construction and container handling industries.

Implementation of a safety management system is the key recommendation in the 1995 review of industrial safety in Hong Kong. It has been accepted by the Administration as a new and effective strategy to enhance industrial safety after receiving general support during the public consultation period. As the matter concerns safety and the life and limbs of workers are at stake, we do not consider it appropriate to make exception to the requirement on implementing the safety management system by particular industrial sectors.

It should be noted that the safety management system in the proposed Regulation has already been developed with the ease of implementation by the industrial sectors in mind. To ensure that the system is an effective one, it has to embody a certain minimum number of elements. These elements are also inter-related and support one another and only partial implementation of some of the elements will render the whole safety management system ineffective. If the manufacturing industry has a better safety record because its work process is less hazardous or it has already in place a good system of work, then the industry as a whole should find that it has to commit lesser effort in fulfilling the requirement of the elements under the proposed safety management system.

Item (f): The Administration to confirm whether the Bill and the proposed Regulations will apply to sub-contractors employing less than 50 employees who work with employees of other sub-contractors on the same construction site.

The mandatory safety training provisions as proposed in the Bill will apply to all contractors on a construction site, irrespective of the size of employment.

The proposed Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Management) Regulation does not apply to a sub-contractor employing less than 50 workers. It is however the long-term objective of the Administration to extend the requirement to industrial undertakings employing less than 50 workers.

If several sub-contractors each employing less than 50 workers work together and the aggregate number of their workers is 50 or more, the contractor(s) at a higher level will be subject to the control of the proposed safety management regulation.

Item (g): The Administration to confirm, if the Bill also applies to the case in (f), which party (the sub-contractor or the principal contractor) will be held liable for breaches of the provisions in the Bill and the proposed Regulations.

In the case of a breach of the mandatory safety training provisions of the Bill, all contractors and sub-contractors, irrespective of their employment size, can be held liable because application of the safety training requirement is not dependent on the number of employees. As for the proposed Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Management) Regulation, the principal contractor and sub-contractors employing 50 workers or more will be held liable for breaches of the proposed Regulation.