THE proposed Consumer Goods Safety Bill to be introduced into the Legislative Council next month is an overdue, and badly needed, addition to Hong Kong's limited consumer protection net. The Consumer Council has been calling for its introduction for more than a decade. It is extraordinary that a society so reliant on its international image as the shoppers' paradise has paid so little attention to the safety of the goods in its shops. It is certainly time the loopholes left by more specific rules on food, drugs and toys were closed by more general legislation. Even now, industries that have been churning out cheap, nasty, unsafe goods are to be given another reprieve. They have had long enough to prepare themselves for tougher regulations but the Government is giving them a further year-long grace period. Thiswill let them continue to evade their responsibilities. Worse, it will encourage them to dump their remaining inventory of shoddy goods on the market. No doubt industry representatives will complain this half-hearted attempt to control malpractices is excessive interference in the operations of the market. But even in such a freewheeling capitalist economy as Hong Kong, the injunction ''caveat emptor,'' - let the buyer beware - must not apply to product safety. This is an area in which it is the business and the duty of Government to intervene. The Government's role is to make sure that the same rules apply to all players in an industry. Making life easy for irresponsible manufacturers is not part of its brief.