Two arrested after illegal worker found electrocuted in Hong Kong factory

He was repairing the air-conditioning system when he received electric shock; his colleague and employer were detained over breach of conditions of stay and employing illegal workers respectively

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 7:12pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 July, 2017, 7:54pm

An illegal worker and his employer were both arrested in Hong Kong on Sunday after their colleague – also an illegal worker – was electrocuted while repairing the air-conditioning system in a factory.

A police spokesman said the force received a report at 9.07am that a 26-year-old worker had fainted at a pharmaceutical factory on 1 Wang Fu Street, Yuen Long. Paramedics arrived at the scene shortly and found him unconscious. He was sent to Pok Oi Hospital in Yuen Long but was certified dead at 10.17am.

Investigations showed he had received an electric shock during the repair work. The force said the case was not suspicious and classified it as an industrial accident.

It found the dead man, as well as one of the two men arrested, aged 34, were illegal workers. They were two-way permit holders, who are not allowed to work in Hong Kong, police said.

The 34-year-old was held on suspicion of breach of conditions of stay.

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A 29-year-old man who hired the two was arrested on suspicion of employing illegal workers.

The Labour Department has launched a probe into the fatal incident. “The (department) immediately deployed staff to the scene upon receiving a report of the accident, and is now conducting an investigation to look into its cause,” it said.

The case came after three workers were killed last week as they were carrying out tunnelling work at an underground site in Hung Hom. Their deaths sparked an investigation by police and the Labour Department into whether the men had been equipped with safety gear. Firefighters found they were not wearing safety belts.

The Post found in an exclusive report last month only one person had ever been given a jail sentence since incarceration was included in the industrial safety law in 1989, even though hundreds of workers have died while transforming Hong Kong into a modern city.

The confirmation by the Labour Department of this revelation prompted calls from activists for Hong Kong to learn from Britain and make the HK$500,000 maximum fine in the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance an unlimited one.

Such a change, they said, would force construction companies and contractors to ensure their workers performed their duties in a safe environment.

According to the latest data available, about 500 people had been killed in industrial accidents since 1999.

Prison provisions were added to the ordinance in 1989 to strengthen deterrence. The maximum term is 12 months. The law was first enacted in 1955.