BEACH stores will be required to spend more on accident insurance after a sunbather was stabbed by a blown-away rented umbrella last week.
They may also be required to rent out umbrellas with more user-friendly stands to replace the current ones, which customers often avoid as they weigh a hefty 28kg.
Bus driver Kwok Ting-hon, 57, was stabbed by a beach umbrella blown away by a sudden gust of wind on Clear Water Bay Second Beach last weekend.
He suffered a 5cm-deep chest wound and a punctured lung and was listed as critical for two days before recovering.
Assistant Director of Regional Services Department Eddy Yau Kwok-yin said plans were being drawn up to improve safety conditions at beaches by imposing more stringent conditions in the rental contracts agreed by refreshment kiosk operators.
Among the conditions imposed at present is the purchase of public liability insurance.
The department has already raised the minimum requirement in insurance payouts from $1.5 million to $6.5 million from April 1.
Mr Yau said they were planning to further raise the required amount in future contracts.
The insurance covers incidents such as poisoning by food sold by the stores, or accidents related to services such as equipment rental.
While operators are also required to rent umbrellas with a stand at present, there was no specification as to which type should be used.
'We are planning to require the use of a lightweight stand, one which is hollow in design and which users fill with water when the umbrella is erected,' Mr Yau said.
'The weight of the water helps to secure the umbrella.' He said more people would be likely to use a lighter stand.
Mr Yau said they would send their proposals to the Urban Services Department, which manages beaches in urban areas.
Mr Yau said beachgoers had become more cautious following the accident and since his department had broadcast safety reminders about the use of umbrellas at beaches.
The department is still gathering information about the accident, including whether the umbrella was rented from the kiosks at the beach or brought by beachgoers. The umbrella has not been found.
The owner of a refreshment kiosk open since April has said it was not his responsibility as the umbrella was not his.