Employment Disputes
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A. Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance

The Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance (Cap. 509 of the Laws of Hong Kong) provides for the safety and health protection of employees in both industrial and non-industrial workplaces. It sets out requirements in general terms with a few exceptions, 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 who are 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 Duty-holders

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

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 arrangements to ensure safety and health in connection with the use, handling, storage or transportation 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.

Employees should also contribute to safety and health in the workplaces by :

  • taking care of the safety and health of persons in the workplace; and
  • using any equipment or following any system or work practices that are provided by their employers.

Occupiers of premises should also 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 risk to the health of any person working on the premises, even if they do not directly employ that person on the premises.

Enforcement of the Ordinance / Penalties

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

For more details regarding occupational safety and health matters, please visit the Labour Department’s webpage.

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