Improving safety in workplace
I refer to the editorial headlined 'Safety on the site' (South China Morning Post, February 23). I wish to clarify some points and set the record straight.
The Government is strongly committed to improving occupational safety and health at work. Safety in the workplace, including construction sites, has always been the Government's policy and the Labour Department's priority.
The department and other government departments have been making joint efforts towards this goal. The Labour Department is the authority to enforce safety legislation in both industrial and non-industrial establishments. This is supplemented by advice, training, education and publicity.
The number of deaths from accidents at construction sites dropped from 51 in 1996 to 41 in 1997.
On enforcement, the Labour Department initiated 1,611 prosecutions and issued 1,146 improvement notices and suspension notices to contractors in 1997. Other government departments also took disciplinary action against contractors within their jurisdiction.
The department is also concerned about the level of fine imposed in each convicted case. It is the department's policy to apply for a review of a low fine in cases where there are justifiable grounds for doing so. The average fine for each construction offence has increased by 37 per cent, from $18,750 in 1996 to $25,698 in 1997.
WONG CHING-KWOK for Commissioner for Labour