The Administration's response to issues raised
at the meeting of the Legco Bills Committee on
Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1999
held on 9 March 1999

(A) Safety training course provided by the Construction Industry Training Authority (CITA) be offered free of charge

The Administration has conveyed to CITA the suggestion from Members that the basic safety training course for construction workers should be offered free of charge. CITA has responded that the existing practice of charging $100 for attendance of the relevant course for construction workers is necessary and appropriate for the following reasons.

  1. CITA is already heavily subsidising the safety training course as the average running cost is close to $300 per trainee. The course, being organised on an on-going basis, has an attendance of about 8,000 workers a month since January 1999. If the training course is provided free of charge it will impose a heavy financial burden on the resources of the Authority.

  2. Since running the course in 1996, CITA has not received any complaint or feedback that the $100 fee is deterring workers from attending the course. So far over 60,000 workers have been trained. Actually majority of the course attendants was sponsored by their employers. Some others were subsidised under the Housing Authority Sponsorship Scheme or Pay for Safety scheme in the PWP projects.

  3. If the training course is provided free of charge, the percentage of workers who enrolled on the course but do not turn up on the day of training, which remains very low at the moment, is expected to increase significantly. This will result in wastage of the resources of CITA.

Nevertheless, to assist CSSA recipients intending to enroll on the training course, CITA is prepared, upon the production of proof, to waive the course fee.

(B) Comparisons of the accident rates of the construction and container handling industries before and after the implementation of the mandatory safety training requirement

As mandatory safety training is not yet implemented in the construction and container handling industries, the Administration does not have relevant statistics to compare the accident rates in the two industries before and after the implementation of the requirement. However, it may be relevant to note that, between 1995 and 1997, the average annual accident rates in public sector construction sites, of which contractors were required to provide induction safety training to their site workers since 1995, were 78% lower than the corresponding figures in the private sector sites, where no safety training requirement is in place.

(C) Accident statistics of the construction and container handling industries and factories in the first, second and third quarters of 1998

The following table shows the industrial accident statistics of the four major industrial sectors and container handling (see note 2 below):

Industry/ActivitiesNumber of industrial accidents

1998(1st Qtr)1998 (1st-2nd Qtrs)1998 (1st-3rd Qtrs)
Manufacturing Industry1,446 3,0954,950
Construction Industry4,295(11) 9,456(28)15,380(43)
Catering Industry3,094 6,54410,042
Mining and Quarrying, Utilities, Transport and Servicing Industries 845(2)1,996(3)3,192(8)
Container Handling (see Note 2) 11(2)38(2)61(2)


(1) Figures in brackets denote the number of fatalities.

(2) The figures indicate accident cases identified to be directly related to container handling in land-based container yards, depots and loading/unloading areas.

(D) Fourth Schedule of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance be amended by way of positive vetting

As a matter of policy, we have no strong views on the proposal that amendments to the Fourth Schedule should be submitted to the Legislative Council for positive vetting.

(E) Criteria for determining the demarcation of the three-tier scheme for the adoption of a safety management at the workplace

The Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Management) Regulations (the Regulation) proposes a safety management system with the following 14 process elements, viz.

  1. Safety policy

  2. Safety organization

  3. Safety training

  4. In-house safety rules

  5. Programme of inspection of hazardous conditions

  6. Personal protection programme

  7. Accident/incident investigation

  8. Emergency preparedness

  9. Evaluation, selection and control of sub-contractors

  10. Safety committees

  11. Evaluation of job related hazards

  12. Promotion of safety and health awareness

  13. Programme for accident control and elimination of hazards and

  14. Programme on protection of occupational health

The Regulation proposes that construction sites and certain industrial undertakings employing 50-99 workers to adopt the first 8 of the 14 elements above. The elements concerned are considered as basic ones and, when implemented collectively, are capable of helping the sites and undertakings to manage safety effectively. They will also help control, alleviate and eliminate hazards commonly found in such establishments.

Those sites and undertakings employing 100 or more workers will be required to adopt all 14 elements. However, we further propose that as a first step they should be required to implement the first 10 elements only, i.e. (a) to (j). After they have acquired more experience in implementing the first 10 elements then they will be required to implement the remaining 4 elements, i.e. (k) to (n).

We propose that establishments employing 100 or more workers should, in addition to the first 8 basic elements, adopt 2 more elements, viz. (i) on evaluation, selection and control of sub-contractors and (j) on safety committee, because they are more relevant to larger establishments than smaller ones. Better control by the larger establishments on their sub-contractors on safety will have a cascading effect to improve the safety performance of the latter which may be small concerns and do not come under the ambit of the Regulation. The set-up of safety committee in a larger organisation is useful because given their size there is less chance for frequent and direct communication amongst workers at all levels of the operation. A more structured communication avenue will also help in information exchange and collection of feedback, thereby inculcating ownership and partnership in managing safety.

The last 4 elements (k) to (n) require more technical know-how and expertise in their implementation or should be more effective in a larger workplace. We therefore propose that they should be adopted by larger organisations only and that a longer leadtime should be allowed for making the necessary preparation for implementation.

(F) Breakdown by industry types of the 800 undertakings employing over 100 workers and the 700 industrial undertakings employing 50 to 99 workers respectively

The following tables show the estimated number of undertakings employing over 100 workers and between 50-99 workers which are covered by the Regulation (i.e. employing these numbers on one or more sites, or in construction, the contract value exceeds $100 million) :

Table I : Estimated Number of Undertakings employing over 100 workers Breakdown by Industries

Types of Industries Undertakings Estimated number of undertakings
(as at June 1998) *
Construction Sites300
Factories and Shipyards480
Designated Undertakings20
Total :800

Table II : Estimated Number of Undertakings employing 50-99 workers Breakdown by Industries

Types of Industries Undertakings Estimated number of undertakings
(as at June 1998) *
Construction Sites200
Factories, Shipyards and Designated Undertakings500
Total :700

* Based on the Quarterly Report of Employment & Vacancies by Census & Statistics Department.

Education and Manpower Bureau
29 March 1999