Tougher penalties needed for work accidents: unionist - RTHK
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Tougher penalties needed for work accidents: unionist

2023-03-22 HKT 10:15
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  • A building site at Anderson Road. Several workers have died in the area. Photo: RTHK
    A building site at Anderson Road. Several workers have died in the area. Photo: RTHK
A unionist lawmaker says he's worried by a recent increase in the number of deadly workplace accidents after a worker plunged to his death at a construction site near Sau Mau Ping on Tuesday.

Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme on Wednesday, Lam Chun-sing said he believed some companies that had been forced to suspend construction during the pandemic were now trying to catch up. He called for changes to the rules around prosecutions, including extending the maximum time and implementing tougher penalties.

"For the serious occupational accident, there's not enough time for the Labour Department to collect evidence and to make a strong prosecution," he told RTHK's Vicky Wong.

"If the Labour Department does not have enough time to find evidence, it's difficult to make a prosecution. It's one of the reasons why the penalties decided by the courts were on the low side before.

"For many fatal occupational accidents the penalty is only HK$20-30,000 and there are many companies that violate the law again, and not only once."

Lam noted that amendments to the occupational health and safety law that are now before the Legislative Council would extend the maximum time for a prosecution from six months to nine months, less than the original proposal of a one-year limit. However he welcomed the idea of raising the maximum fine for extreme breaches to HK$10 million.

The Labour Department said on Tuesday that it was investigating the death of a man who fell from the 15th to the first floor of a public housing building under construction at the former Quarry in Anderson Road.

The department said it ordered the contractor to stop any work near the outside of the buildings on the site until an investigation is complete.

Earlier this month, the department launched more than 60 prosecutions under the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance and other laws against a contractor, subcontractors and individuals alleged to be responsible for the collapse of a construction crane at an Anderson Road building site last September.

Three workers were killed and six were injured when the tower crane crashed down on top of several temporary site offices.

Tougher penalties needed for work accidents: unionist