Tired cooks and waiters are more likely to get hurt, according to union officials Nearly half of the industrial accidents in Hong Kong happen to cooks and waiters, with union officials blaming the accidents on overwork and severe staff shortages in the catering sector. Of 8,269 industrial accidents in the first half of the year, 47 per cent, or 3,914 cases, occurred in the catering and restaurant sector. The sector topped the accident list, according to the Census and Statistic Department's latest Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics, released last month. The construction industry came second with 2,141 accidents, including 13 deaths. It accounted for 26 per cent of the total number of accidents in the workplace over the same period. The most common injuries in the catering industry are burns, slipping, and cuts caused by tools used at work. Others include strains from lifting heavy objects, injuries caused by falling objects and exposure to fire and harmful substances. Compared with last year, there has been a drop in the number of workers suffering accidents in both sectors. In the catering industry, accidents dropped by 23 per cent from 5,075 over the same period last year. The drop for the construction industry was 33.6 per cent, from 3,223. The Labour Department claims the drop in industrial accidents is a direct result of government efforts to promote work safety. But the drop in accidents might not necessarily be due to improvements in working conditions, said Mung Siu-tat, the organising secretary representing the catering and hotel industry at the Confederation of Trade Unions. He said it may merely reflect the impact of the Sars outbreak over three months beginning in March. Sars hit the restaurant and catering trade badly, putting many people out of work or reducing the number of days they could work. Mr Mung contended that the work environment had become more dangerous. For many restaurant workers, the normal work day has lengthened from 10 hours to about 14 hours a day. Some workers get only two days off every month, the confederation reports. Mr Mung said: 'Those who kept their jobs [during Sars] were told to work longer hours. It may explain why kitchen workers, chefs and waiters suffer nearly half of the workplace accidents - mainly due to fatigue.' Sun Wing-fai, who represents the construction industry at the confederation, attributed the fewer injuries in the construction sector partially to a massive government campaign of occupational safety at construction sites, including trainings for the workers. But he also pointed out that construction-related jobs had taken a huge hit. More than 16,000 construction workers have been out of work over the year, according to official figures.