I move that the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Officers and Safety Supervisors) (Amendment) Regulation 2001 made by the Commissioner for Labour be approved.
2. The proposed Amendment Regulation aims to extend the coverage of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Safety Officers and Safety Supervisors) Regulations (the principal Regulations) to the container handling industry and to enhance the professionalism and training of safety officers in general.
3. At present, the principal Regulations apply to construction sites and shipyards only. Proprietors of these industrial undertakings are required to employ a safety supervisor where the number of persons employed is 20 or more, and a safety officer where the size of employment is 100 or more. Accidents which occur in the container handling industry tend to be more serious in nature, and we consider it necessary to improve the safety performance of the industry through the employment of safety officers and safety supervisors.
4. The Amendment Regulation also proposes various measures to enhance the professionalism and training of safety officers:
to impose on safety officers additional duties in the management of the workplace;
to raise the minimum qualification and working experience required for registration as a safety officer;
to repeal the obsolete "grandfather clause" provision for the existing classes of designated industrial undertakings since serving practitioners at the time of the introduction of the registration on 29 October 1986 have all been registered.
to limit the period within which the "grandfather clause" provision may apply to 12 months after the principal Regulations become applicable to a new class of designated industrial undertakings; and
to introduce a mechanism for renewing and revalidating the registration of safety officers upon expiry of a four-year validity period. Safety officers will be required to complete not less than 100 hours of Continuing Professional Development programmes in safety and health in the preceding four years for the purpose of renewal or revalidation of their registration.
5. The proposal to extend the coverage of the principal Regulations to the container handling industry will come into effect 12 months after enactment of the Amendment Regulation to allow sufficient time for training or recruitment of relevant safety staff. Many container handling operators have already employed their own safety staff and should have no difficulty in complying with the new requirements within 12 months.
6. As regards the proposals to enhance the professionalism of safety officers, they will come into immediate effect, except that the "grandfather clause" provision will apply for 12 months after the principal Regulations first become applicable to the container handling industry. This will provide sufficient time for safety officers who are currently employed in the industry to get themselves registered.
7. The Amendment Regulation, if enacted, would benefit both employers and employees by improving the safety performance of the industry which would in turn enhance productivity. Representatives of major container handling operators and depots have been consulted and support the proposal. I recommend the Amendment Regulation to Honourable Members.
8. Madam President, I beg to move.