WHAT will it take to make businesses take the safety of their staff and customers seriously? Do more people have to die to make the territory's richest institutions learn to put human life before the minimal sums at stake in installing an extra safety-exit or evacuating a building for an hour after a bomb threat. We are not, after all, talking here about some small shopkeeper trying to scrape a pittance from a business which barely pays more than the rent. We are talking about the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the richest and most powerful money-making machines in the high-street customer service sector. The Tai Wai off-course betting centre in Sha Tin continued accepting bets and functioning normally without warning or evacuating some 400 customers and staff for 50 minutes after being told a bomb had been planted on the premises. An evacuation was ordered only after the bomb was found and a security guard had risked his life carrying it outside (foolishly and in breach of even the Jockey Club's own lax procedures, as it happened). Two months after a firebomb killed 12 people at the Shekkipmei branch of the Hongkong Bank, the Jockey Club has not felt the need to re-examine its priorities. A spokesman said it had reviewed its fire procedures after the Shekkipmei disaster and found them to be in order. So what? What have fire procedures to do with shielding people from the explosive force of a bomb? Of course it is important to know that the club's premises have more safety exits than bank branches and use different, non-flammable glass. But bombs have other, more direct ways of killing and maiming people than by smoke inhalation from materials set alight in the blast. Most of them do not allow the victims time to head for the fire-exits. It is high time for all the territory's big businesses to give thought to the safety of their customers and ensure their staff, particularly their security staff, are trained to react responsibly in emergencies. Giving evasive answers and feeble excuses after something has gone wrong is no substitute for getting it right first time. The Jockey Club, meanwhile, spends a part of its vast takings on charity and good works. That side of its operation at least is concerned about public welfare. Some of the same thinking should be applied to its staff and customers as well.