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LCQ17: Occupational injuries and deaths in SWD-subvented NGOs

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (April 29):


     I have received complaints from staff of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the purview of the Social Welfare Department (SWD) that some staff in their organisations had been injured in work accidents because of insufficient manpower and had to take sick leave.  As the organisations concerned did not hire replacement workers, other staff had to share out the work, work accidents are more prone to occur.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of reports of occupational injuries and deaths involving NGO staff received by SWD in each of the past three years;

(b) how the authorities monitor the establishments of nursing and supporting staff in residential homes operated by NGOs; whether the authorities had investigated in the past three years if these two categories of staff in the relevant homes were sufficient; if they had, of the number of the relevant investigations; and

(c) whether the authorities have requested NGOs to hire replacement workers when their staff are taking sick leave due to work injuries, so as to ensure that there is sufficient manpower to provide services?



     My reply to the question is as follows:

(a) As with other employers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) subvented by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) have to comply with provisions in the existing occupational safety and health legislation and report incidents of occupational injuries and deaths to the Labour Department (LD).  NGOs are not required to report to SWD such incidents and SWD does not therefore possess the requested information.  NGOs are, nonetheless, required to keep a record of accidents or injuries involving staff for SWD's inspection during quality assessments and complaints investigation.

     LD adopts the broad industrial codes under the Hong Kong Standard Industrial Classification published by the Census and Statistics Department in the compilation of statistics on occupational injuries and occupational diseases rather than classifies data by individual industry, sector or class of organisations.  Therefore, we do not have statistics specifically in relation to NGOs, whether or not subvented by SWD.

(b) Subsidised residential care homes operated by NGOs, whether for the elderly or for persons with disabilities, are required to meet the essential/minimum manpower requirements set out in the Funding and Service Agreements (FSAs) or service contracts between the concerned NGOs and SWD.  For residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs), they also have to meet the staffing requirements stipulated in the Residential Care Homes (Elderly Persons) Ordinance (Cap 459) and its regulations.

     SWD conducts regular and/or unannounced inspections of subsidised residential care homes to ensure that the stipulated manpower requirements are complied with.

(c) There is no provision in the existing occupational safety and health legislation to regulate how individual employers manage the work of their organisations as a result of the injury of individual employees.  As with other employers, NGOs subvented by SWD can flexibly deploy their staff and hire workers to relieve those who are on sick leave, whether or not due to work-related injuries.  As mentioned above, NGOs must meet the manpower requirements as set out in (b) above.

Ends/Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:01


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