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Occupational Safety and Occupational Health Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2023 gazetted and takes effect today
     The Occupational Safety and Occupational Health Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2023 (the Ordinance) takes effect upon gazettal today (April 28).

     The Ordinance amends the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance (Cap. 59) and the Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509), as well as their subsidiary legislation to increase overall the penalties for occupational safety and health (OSH) offences so as to enhance their deterrent effect for better protection of employees' OSH.

     The Ordinance mainly makes amendments to the OSH legislation as follows:

(i) With regard to offences under general duty (GD) provisions for employers, proprietors and occupiers of premises (employer GD provisions), the Labour Department (LD) can take out prosecutions by way of indictment. The maximum fines and imprisonment terms are set at $10 million and two years respectively, and new provisions are added to require the courts to take into account the convicted entity's turnover and other financial information given by the convicted entity when sentencing;

(ii) increase the maximum fines of offences prosecuted summarily under the employer GD provisions and the employee GD provisions to $3 million and $150,000 respectively;

(iii) adjust the maximum fines for other summary offences according to their seriousness; and

(iv) extend the time limit for prosecution for an offence that is triable summarily from six months to nine months.

     "With the tripartite concerted efforts of the Government, employers and employees, the Bill has been passed by the Legislative Council on April 19 and the Ordinance comes into operation today. It is believed that the increase in penalty levels of OSH legislation prompts the relevant duty holders to pay more attention to the precautionary measures for protection of employees' OSH," A spokesman for the LD said.

     The Government will launch a comprehensive publicity campaign to enable industries and the public to understand the new penalties of OSH offences. These include providing the latest information on the new penalties on the LD's website (www.labour.gov.hk), distributing promotional pamphlets and broadcasting TV and radio announcements through the media, etc. In addition, the LD will continue to co-operate closely with the Department of Justice to ensure that evidence collection and prosecution work will be properly and effectively done, with a view to facilitating the courts to hand down more deterring sentences that are commensurate with the seriousness of the offences.

     Raising the penalties of OSH offences is one of the Government's strategies to improve the OSH performance of Hong Kong. The LD will continue to adopt a three-pronged approach to promote an OSH culture through inspection and enforcement, publicity and promotion, as well as education and training, as a result to reduce the occurrence of accidents.

     New penalties under the Ordinance have no retrospective effect and there is no grace period.
Ends/Friday, April 28, 2023
Issued at HKT 9:00
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