Following is a speech by the Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at the Occupational Safety Charter Signing Ceremony of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited today (November 25)(English only).
Mr Or, Dr Ng, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you here today at the Occupational Safety Charter Signing Ceremony of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited ("HSBC").
This is a significant and memorable occasion. It underlines the commitment that HSBC attaches to ensuring the safety and health at work of its employees. It also demonstrates the bank's determination to seek continuous improvement in this vitally important aspect of its corporate responsibility.
The Occupational Safety Charter is not a legal document. Yet it brings out the key message that safety and health at work is a "shared responsibility" among employers, employees and the Government. It also provides a safety management framework for employers and employees to work together to improve safety and health at work.
The signing of the charter signifies the commitment of the employer to provide its employees with a safe and healthy working environment, and of the employees to co-operate with their employer to ensure the safety of their own as well as of others. On the part of the Government, we will continue to foster a safe and healthy working environment through the enactment and enforcement of legislation, supplemented by advice, training, education, publicity and promotion. It is only through a spirit of co-operation that we can create a safety culture of which Hong Kong can be proud.
Protecting the occupational safety and health of our workforce ranks very high on our labour policy agenda. Over the years, we have been striving to improve the standards of safety and health at work through legislation, promotion and education. We have also been working closely and jointly with our stakeholders to achieve this important objective.
I am pleased to say that our concerted efforts are bearing fruit. Over the past few years, we have seen sustained and impressive improvement in our safety performance, as evidenced by the downward trend in the number of work accidents as well as accident rate. In 1996, the year we launched the Occupational Safety Charter, there were 59,465 occupational injuries and the injury rate per thousand employees stood at 23.6. In 2003, the number of occupational injuries dropped by 29.3% to 42,022, while the injury rate fell by 25% to 17.7.
This notable achievement is, no doubt, the result of the collective efforts of all the parties concerned. However, there is no room for complacency. Seeking continuous improvement in occupational safety and health must be an ongoing task for the Government, employers, employees as well as all relevant parties.
The HSBC Group has long been a leading financial institution, both globally and in Hong Kong. It employs some 230,000 people in 76 countries and territories around the world. Established in 1865, HSBC has a long and distinguished presence in Hong Kong. Indeed, the bank and Hong Kong have grown and prospered together. HSBC is now the largest bank incorporated in Hong Kong and one of our three note-issuing banks. It has also made sterling contribution to building Hong Kong as one of the world's leading financial centres.
While pursuing excellence in its business, HSBC also attaches great importance to its corporate social responsibility. To its employees, the bank is firmly committed to protecting their safety and health at work. HSBC has formulated a safety policy, set up a well-structured Occupational Safety and Health Office and put in place an effective safety management system. It has also implemented a wide range of safety initiatives that include organising safety and health training for all levels of staff, developing inspection worksheets, conducting regular safety inspections to workplaces, investigating work-related injuries and implementing preventive measures, participating actively in safety promotion programmes, forming teams of Occupational Safety and Health Ambassadors in its branch network, to name but a few.
By subscribing to the Occupational Safety Charter today, HSBC re-affirms strongly and publicly its corporate commitment to occupational safety and health. In so doing, you have set a shining example for other banks and enterprises to follow. Finally, I wish HSBC every success in implementing its Occupational Safety Charter.
Ends/Thursday, November 25, 2004