A fatal industrial accident occurred on West Austin Road, West Kowloon (24th), and two plumbers died of suspected inhalation of hydrogen sulfide while replacing seawater cooling pipes for the Yuanfang air-conditioning system underground. The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Ms Sui Yuk-han, said today (26 December) that after the Labour Department has collected sufficient information on the preliminary evidence that the contractor has breached the requirements, the authorities will discuss with the Department of Justice and seriously consider prosecution under the newly amended OSHO, i.e. prosecution in the form of "indictable offences".
The Secretary for Labour and Welfare Mr Son Son Ngok Han said that the West Kowloon site is a confined space and there are clear legal requirements in this regard, including conducting a risk assessment by a competent person in advance, including the relevant information and a list of personnel to be affixed in a conspicuous place, workers must be properly trained and work under appropriate protection, such as wearing respirators and safety ropes, etc., and the authorities will investigate whether the contractor concerned has complied with the requirements. He said, "I think that the preliminary evidence is a good thing, but of course I need to have a sufficient investigation."
Ms. Sun said she would seriously consider prosecuting contractors under the newly amended OSH regulations in April this year. (Photo by Zheng Zifeng)
Ms Son said that if the Labour Department collects sufficient data, it will discuss with the Department of Justice and seriously consider prosecution under the newly amended OSH Ordinance in April this year to hold the persons concerned accountable. That is, prescriptions can be prosecuted in the form of "indictable offences", with a maximum fine of $4 million and a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
He added that the Labour Department has conducted a territory-wide safety inspection of confined spaces and that if any confined spaces are found to be inconsistent, the Government must take action, including calling for a stoppage of work and imposing legal penalties.
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