Motion on “Increase in Accidents Related to Repair, Maintenance, Alteration and Addition Works”(2011.01.20)

Hon KP Chan on increase in accidents related to repair, maintenance, alteration and addition works:

Hon CHAN Kin-por expressed deep concern about the increase in the number of accidents related to Repair, Maintenance, Alteration and Addition (“RMAA”) works.  He considered that to ensure RMAA works  contractors’ compliance with relevant safety legislation, the Administration should conduct more regular inspections, apart from paying surprise inspections, to workplaces.  In case of non-compliance constituting an offence for repeated contraventions of the legislation, a higher level of penalty should be imposed in order to achieve greater deterrent effect.

In response, Commissioner for Labour and Deputy Commissioner for Labour (Occupational Safety and Health) advised that:

(a)  with the construction industry recording the highest injury/ accident rate, this specific industry remained a major area of concern in respect of occupational safety and health performance.  In the first half of 2010, in addition to regular inspections to workplaces, the Labour Department had launched six enforcement campaigns focusing on construction safety, RMAA works safety, scaffolding safety, catering safety, cargo and container handling safety.  During these campaigns, the Labour Department took rigorous enforcement actions and issued improvement notices/suspension notices, where circumstances warranted, to ensure compliance with relevant safety legislation and remove imminent risks of death or serious bodily injury;

(b)  in 2010, the Labour Department had conducted a total of 124 000 inspections resulting in the issuance of some 1 400 enforcement notices.  In cases where employers, including contractors/ subcontractors as in the cases of RMAA works, had bad records, the Labour Department would conduct more frequent inspections to ensure their full compliance with relevant safety legislation; and

(c)  it should be noted that most RMAA works were small in scale and scattered in nature, and undertaken by small contractors within a relatively short span of time.  Small RMAA contractors were generally less conversant with the occupational safety and health legislation and their workers were less aware of safety precautionary measures.  With the introduction of the Mandatory Building Inspection and Window Inspection Schemes by the Buildings Department and the launch of various sponsorship schemes to encourage the maintenance of dilapidated buildings, the anticipated growth in RMAA works would bring challenges to enforcement and promotion of work safety and would call for more focus.  The Labour Department had established referral systems with the Housing Department, the Hong Kong Housing Society and the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies to collect intelligence on RMAA works to facilitate prompt and targetted enforcement actions on such high-risk work activities.

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