Following is the speech by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at Safety and Health Expo 2003 and the 12th International Conference on Safe Communities today (March 18) (English only):
Dr Ng, Dr Krug, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen :
I am pleased to join you today at the Safety and Health Expo 2003 and the 12th International Conference on Safe Communities. It is also my honour to address such a distinguished gathering of prominent experts in safety and health from around the world. On behalf of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, I welcome you all to this conference.
Safety and health at work is a global concern. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that occupational accidents and work-related diseases claim the lives of two million people every year - more than 5,000 every day!
Workplace accidents also deprive millions more of their ability to work for varying periods, sometimes for life. Work-related injuries and ill-health shatter the lives of accident victims and their families. They also impose huge costs on employers, and on society as a whole.
The ILO's estimate is alarming. It reminds us that much more needs to be done to protect the well-being of our labour force. We all know that most of these occupational accidents and diseases can be avoided if adequate precautions are taken.
The Hong Kong Government is firmly committed to improving safety and health at work. We have been tackling the problem through a multi-pronged approach of legislation and enforcement, education and training, as well as promotion and publicity. I am pleased to say that our efforts are beginning to bear fruit. There are concrete signs that occupational safety and health in Hong Kong is improving, as shown by a declining accident toll in the last couple of years. Later this morning, my colleague, Mr Matthew Cheung, will give you an overview of occupational safety and health in Hong Kong and share with you what the Government has been doing to bring the accident toll down.
This is the second time that the Government has joined hands with the Occupational Safety and Health Council to organise the Safety and Health Expo, and this important global forum has been given an added dimension. We are very honoured to play host to a concurrent event of the Expo, the 12th International Conference on Safe Communities.
I was extremely pleased to learn that our Tuen Mun and Kwai Tsing districts will be designated this evening as "Safe Communities" by the World Health Organisation. We take pride in their achievement, and we are grateful for the joint efforts and commitment of all the parties involved in making Tuen Mun and Kwai Tsing safe and caring communities.
The Hong Kong Government fully supports the Safe Community Programme. We share the World Health Organisation's belief that people have the right to safety and health. Through this programme, we can build a supportive community that cares about the physical and mental well-being of our residents.
I wish both the Safety and Health Expo 2003 and the 12th International Conference on Safe Communities every success. And to all our overseas guests, I hope you have an enjoyable time in Hong Kong. Please find time to do shopping and sightseeing, and take home pleasant memories of Hong Kong.
Thank you very much.
End/Tuesday, March 18, 2003