C. Accidents at work
Industrial accidents are a common occurrence. It is an employer's duty to make the workplace safe for its employees, and to protect them from harmful accidents at work. However, accidents can and do happen, even in an office environment. Common examples include construction workers falling from a height or injuries caused by faulty equipment in the work place.
Most of the matters and all legal procedures that apply to work-related injuries and their respective forms of compensation are governed by the Employees' Compensation Ordinance (Cap. 282 of the Laws of Hong Kong) (“the ECO").
The ECO applies to all full-time or part-time employees who are employed under contracts of employment or apprenticeship, including domestic helpers, agricultural employees, crewmembers of Hong Kong registered ships, and any persons who are employed in any capacity on board ships registered in Hong Kong or in Hong Kong waters.
Employers are liable to pay compensation for injuries that are sustained by their employees as a result of accidents that arise out of and in the course of employment; or for occupational diseases that are specified in the ECO.
An employer owes a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of its employees.
The general duty owed by an employer includes the provision of competent staff adequate material, a proper system of work, and effective supervision.
Where injury is caused to an employee by the negligence, the breach of statutory duty, or other wrongful act or omission of the employer together with any other person(s) or entity(ies), the injured employee may also bring a separate common law claim for damages against the other person(s) or entity(ies). Such a common law claim would be independent of the employee's compensation claim under the ECO. However, any damages awarded against an employer in an action under common law or under any enactment in respect of any such negligence, breach of statutory duty, or wrongful act or omission, shall be reduced by the value of any compensation that has been received by the injured employee under the employees' compensation claim.