Labour minister Law Chi-kwong on Sunday said it's high time that Hong Kong introduces tougher penalties for employers who breach occupational safety laws, noting that it's been more than two decades since changes were made to the relevant legislation.
A bill on the matter is to be put to lawmakers for a first reading this week. It proposes doubling the maximum fines for violations.
Writing on his official blog, Law said existing penalties don't provide enough of a deterrent effect to prevent industrial accidents, with around 20 fatalities each year over the past decade.
He said some employers that experienced deaths were repeat offenders.
For cases of extreme violations, the government proposes raising the maximum penalty to HK$10 million, Law said, conceding that such a move would be controversial.
The secretary said prosecutions would only be triggered when there had been wilful or reckless neglect leading to death or serious injury.
He also said the law would state that in sentencing, the courts must consider a company's financial situation and business volume.