Hong Kong Tries Awards to Boost Food Service Safety

The Hong Kong Labour Department is trying an awards program with cash prizes for safe establishments, group safety, and safety awareness for single-outlet establishments in a bid to reverse the high accident rate of the catering industry. Site visits are taking place this month and into September by the department's occupational safety officers, with interviews and final assessments to be conducted in September and October. Winners will be notified and announced in November 2008.

The 2008/2009 Catering Industry Safety Award Scheme (http://www.labour.gov.hk/eng/news/pdf/Brochure.pdf) involves several hotel and restaurant associations and trades. It is open to any catering establishment within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region that prepares food for consumption on the premises, has a valid operating license, and has not experienced a serious or fatal accident or been suspended by the department within the past year as of the Aug. 21 enrollment deadline.

The judging panel is six leaders from the department and groups including the Occupational Safety & Health Council, the Chinese Cuisine Training Institute Training Board, and the Eating Establishment Employees General Union. The criteria include PPE, housekeeping, workplace environmental controls, hygiene and first aid, manual lifting and handling, tools, exits and firefighting equipment, safety policy, risk assessment, safety rules, training, incident investigation, inspections of hazardous conditions, emergency preparedness, and how safety is encouraged. The cash prizes range from $1,000 to $3,500 HK dollars -- equivalent to about $125 to $385 in U.S. dollars.

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