OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ORDINANCE, CHAPTER 509

The Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance provides for the safety and health protection to employees in workplaces, both industrial and non-industrial. It is basically an enabling ordinance setting out requirements in general terms. 

The Coverage

This ordinance covers almost all workplaces - places where employees work. In addition to factories, construction sites and catering establishments, other places, such as offices, laboratories, shopping arcades, educational institutions also come under the ambit of the law. However, there are a few exception, namely 

  • an aircraft or vessel in a public place; 
  • the place occupied by the driver of a land transport vehicle when it is in a public place (but other employees working in the vehicle are covered); 
  • domestic premises at which only domestic servants are employed; and 
  • places where only self-employed persons work. 
The Roles of the Dutyholders

Under this ordinance, everyone has a role to play in creating a safe and healthy workplace. 

  1. Employers should contribute to safety and health in their workplaces by: 
    • providing and maintaining plant and work systems that do not endanger safety or health; 
    • making arrangement for ensuring safety and health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transport of plant or substances; 
    • providing all necessary information, instruction, training, and supervision for ensuring safety and health; 
    • providing and maintaining safe access to and egress from the workplaces; and 
    • providing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment 

     
  2. Occupiers of premises should take responsibility for ensuring that 
    • the premises; 
    • the means of access to and egress from the premises; and 
    • any plant or substance kept at the premises 
    are safe and without risks to health to any person working on the premises, even if they do not directly employ that person on the premises.
     
  3. Employees should also contribute to safety and health in the workplaces by : 
    • taking care for the safety and health of persons at the workplace; and 
    • using any equipment or following any system or work practices provided by their employers. 
Enforcement of the Ordinance

The Commissioner for Labour is empowered to issue improvement notices and suspension notices against activity of workplace which may create an imminent hazard to the employees. Failure to comply with the notices constitutes an offence punishable by a fine of HK$200,000 and HK$500,000 respectively and imprisonment of up to 12 months.

Occupational Safety and Health Regulation

The Occupational Safety and Health Regulation, made under the above ordinance, sets down some basic requirements for accident prevention, fire precaution, workplace environment control, hygiene at workplaces, first aid, as well as what employers and employees are expected to do in manual handling operations. The main provisions of the Regulation are: 

To prevent accidents by:

  • ensuring that the plant is properly designed, constructed and maintained and that all dangerous parts are effectively guarded; 
  • ensuring that all dangerous areas are securely fenced. 
To prevent fire by:
  • providing illuminated 'EXIT' signs over all exits and clear directions to them; 
  • keeping all means of escape in a safe condition and free from obstruction; 
  • making sure that all exit doors can easily be opened from inside the workplace or are unlocked; 
  • providing suitable and adequate fire safety measures. 
To provide a safe and healthy work environment by:
  • keeping the workplace clean and ensuring that it is adequately lit and ventilated; 
  • providing adequate drainage. 
To ensure hygiene by:
  • providing adequate lavatory and washing facilities, as well as adequate supply of drinking water. 
To provide first aid by:
  • keeping adequate first aid facilities on the premises and appointing designated employees to look after them. 
To ensure safe manual handling operations by:
  • assessing and reviewing risks to the safety and health of employees who undertake manual handling operations; 
  • providing proper training and other necessary protective measures for employees who undertake manual handling operations. 

Click here for the full list of the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance and its subsidiary Regulations