Hong Kong 2003
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Occupational Safety and Health

The Occupational Safety and Health Branch of the Labour Department administers the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance, the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance and their subsidiary legislation to protect the safety and health of employees at work in almost all economic sectors.

Enforcement of the legislation is carried out through routine inspections of workplaces and special campaigns. To arouse safety awareness among employers and employees and to facilitate compliance with the law, the department promotes the Occupational Safety Charter, publishes a wide variety of guidebooks and codes of practice and undertakes other activities such as organising safety campaigns and award schemes, exhibitions and seminars.

Boilers and Pressure Vessels Safety

The Boilers and Pressure Vessels Division of the Labour Department administers the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Ordinance to ensure the safe use and operation of pressure equipment. The division conducts regular spot checks on pressure equipment. It also conducts examinations for the issue of Certificates of Competency, investigates accidents and undertakes activities to promote safety.

In 2003, the division processed 1 537 applications for registration of equipment, conducted 6 494 inspections, and issued 425 Certificates of Competency and endorsements.

Occupational Health

The Occupational Health Service of the Labour Department aims to protect the health of workers from hazards in the workplace environment. The service sets occupational health standards, monitors occupational hygiene practice in the workplaces and enforces occupational health and safety legislation. It undertakes medical examinations for radiation workers and government employees engaged in hazardous occupations, provides clinical consultation for employees with a work-related illness, investigates occupational diseases, arranges medical assessments for injured employees, and conducts health educational and promotional programmes for workers. The service also provides hyperbaric oxygen therapy for treatment of decompression sickness in divers.

In 2003, the service enhanced its inspection of hospitals, homes for the elderly and workplaces undergoing cleaning and disinfection to ensure the adequate provision and training in the use of personal protective equipment for workers.

Occupational Safety and Health Council

The Occupational Safety and Health Council was established in 1988 to foster a safe and healthy working environment in Hong Kong through training, promotion, consultancy, information services and research.

Training and promotional initiatives for high-risk industries are the council's priorities. A total of 15 000 persons attended the 650 training courses organised by the council in 2003. Classroom training was strengthened with practical sessions on gas welding, forklift truck operation, working in a confined space, working at a height, abrasive wheel operation, and use of fire extinguishers. The council also provided training on the application of psychology in safety management and occupational rehabilitation to enable employers to assist injured employees to return to work. It organised regular technical seminars on topical issues such as safe working on scaffolding, outdoor work under extreme weather, and health and hygiene at construction sites.

In view of increasing public demand, the council published the first Hong Kong Occupational Safety and Health Products and Services Suppliers Directory, providing detailed information on OSH products, services and suppliers.

The council hosted the 'Safety and Health Expo and the 12th International Conference on Safe Communities' in March. There were exchanges of international expertise and an exhibition displaying a wide range of occupational safety and health products and services. A milestone at the Expo was the World Health Organisation's accreditation of Tuen Mun and Kwai Tsing as the first designated safe communities in Hong Kong. As the sixth affiliate 'safe community support centre' of the World Health Organisation, the council continued to promote safety and health at the district and community levels.

With the support of trade unions and related organisations, the council launched a campaign on 'Workplace Protection against SARS' in May to educate high-risk employee groups on the effective use of personal protective equipment and prevention of biological hazards. This was done by means of seminars, videos and publications as well as the distribution of protective equipment. In July, the council launched a 'Workplace Hygiene Charter' to promote a clean and hygienic working environment. A series of workplace exercises was designed for construction workers, health care workers, cleaners and professional drivers to help them improve personal health.

The council's OSH Enhancement Scheme for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) was enhanced during the year by the introduction of an accredited list of safety consultants. The scheme provides technical support to SMEs.

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