HKIE's Views on the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill 1999

1. General

1.1 The Hong Kong Institution of Engineers welcomes and supports the Bill. The Safety Specialist Group of the Institution has regular meetings with the Labour Department and other safety organisations and is well aware of the issue.

1.2 In terms of training issue, it is considered important that qualified trainers and training courses have to be recognised by the Commissioner and be readily available for effective implementation of the Regulations.

1.3 It is suggested that though there may be time and resource constraints due to large number of workers for the initial training, subsequent maintenance of the system (e.g. certificate renewal) should also be considered.

1.4 The Bill, at this time, is under the authority of Labour Department but applies also to construction site. There is a gap or conflict with the Departments under Works Bureau.

There is a "Draft Code of Practice for Site Safety Supervision" under the authority of the Buildings Department. There is a need to regularize the relationship between these two documents.

1.5 The Factory and Industrial Undertakings (Amendment) Bill puts the responsibility to comply with the Regulations mainly on the employer. There should be a more equitable split of responsibility between employers and workers. More often than not, the employer gets penalized because they are an easier target. This does not promote safety implementation.

We will need to find a way in the Bill to promote better implementation of safety procedures for workers. Perhaps the ability for the employers to pass on fines or deduction of wages if the workers are found liable for contravention of the Bill, will help to deter habitual deviation from good practice.

2. Specific

2.1 Comments Pertaining To "Relevant Industrial Undertaking"

In our previous discussions with the Labour Department, it was our understanding that the "mandatory safety training" only applies to those persons who need to enter and stay in a construction site. However, in the Bill, the term "construction work" is used in the "Fourth Schedule" as a "specified industrial undertaking". It is considered that the definition of "construction work" needs to be clarified as to whether any other activities conducted at places other than construction sites will also be covered. If this is the intention, the impact and effect of the new requirements on the practitioners in the construction industry will be much greater and wider, and more discussions and consultation with the industry might be needed.

2.2 Comments Pertaining To "Relevant Person" and "Relevant Safety Training Course"

In accordance with the definitions made under the Bill, "relevant person" can be of different groups of persons, such as workers, supervisors, professionals, etc. Likewise, "relevant safety training course" is not necessarily restricted to one form of training such as the "mandatory safety training" that has been mentioned. When the Bill has been enacted, it could be a requirement of the Labour Department for different groups of persons to acquire different kinds of certificates by attending different kinds of safety training courses, such as general safety training for workers, supervisory safety management training for site supervisor, project design safety training for engineers etc. If this is the intention, there will be profound impacts and effects on the industry and more thorough discussions and consultation with the industry might be needed.