TOUGH safety regulations covering the construction and maintenance of builders' hoists will come into force early next year, several months behind schedule. The new ordinance has been drawn up following one of Hong Kong's worst construction accidents when 12 workers were killed a year ago on Thursday. The 12, who included a 16-year-old boy, died after a hoist taking them back to work after a tea-break plunged 17 floors to the ground at the Hong Kong and China Gas Company's building site in Java Road, Quarry Bay. ''We expect the new legislation to be passed by the Legislative Council in January or February,'' said the acting assistant director of electronics and legislation enforcement at the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, John Chan Hing-nin. In February the department said it hoped to enact the regulations this year, but it took longer than expected to draft the instructions, which will be passed on to law draftsmen this week. ''There are several hurdles still to go. We hope to send the bill to Legco in November, but we cannot predict how long it will take there,'' said the department director, Hugh Phillipson. Called the Builders' Lifts and Tower Working Platforms (Safety) Bill, it describes in detail the safety requirements for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of lifts and the qualifications examiners and contractors need before they can inspect and approve lifts and hoists. The bill also insists that all qualified examiners and hoist contractors are registered with the department. Today, the Japanese main contractor, Aoki Corporation, goes to trial in Eastern Court defending 16 summonses issued after the collapse. The firm has already been fined $70,000 after pleading guilty to eight summonses served at the same time. Ajax Engineers and Surveyors is facing a corporate manslaughter charge relating to the death of the youngest victim, Fung Ka-hong, while four men who work for three other companies have been separately charged with manslaughter. The trials will take place next year. The accident led to the immediate inspection of all 62 hoists on the territory's construction sites. The anniversary of the hoist collapse also sees the introduction of tougher restrictions to ban untrained teenagers from working on construction sites. One of the saddest aspects of the accident was that Fung Ka-hong's parents were unaware that he was a construction worker. From June 22 nobody under the age of 18 will be allowed to work on a site unless they have received training from recognised centres. Any contractor flouting the rules will face a $50,000 fine. Legal experts have also called for harsher action against construction workers who ignore safety regulations. Labour Department figures show just three workers were prosecuted last year compared to more than 3,000 summonses issued against contractors and factory owners. The Labour Department's chief factory inspector, Chan Tat-king, said companies were an easier target and workers had suffered enough if they had been hurt.