Illegal worker electrocuted in pharma factory

An illegal worker from the mainland was killed by suspected electric shock at a pharmaceutical factory in Yuen Long yesterday.

Riley Chan

Monday, July 17, 2017

An illegal worker from the mainland was killed by suspected electric shock at a pharmaceutical factory in Yuen Long yesterday.

The 26-year-old, surnamed Qin, was found unconscious by his colleague in a meter room on the second floor on Wang Fu Street at about 9am.

He was doing maintenance on the air- conditioning system when his right index finger touched the electricity meter, causing the electrocution, said a source from the company.

A worker called police and Qin was rushed to Pok Oi Hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later.

The victim was identified as a two- way permit holder from Hebei province hired by the firm, Bright Future, to work as an electrician.

Police also arrested a 34-year-old illegal worker, surnamed Xie, for breach of conditions of stay.

The employer, surnamed Li, 29, was also arrested and could face a maximum penalty of three years in prison and HK$350,000 fine for hiring illegals. Police classified the case as an industrial accident.

The Labour Department sent staff to the scene upon receiving a report of the accident and is investigating the cause.

CLP Power Hong Kong also sent staff to the site at the Fire Services Department's request.

A spokesman for the electricity firm said no abnormality had been found in any of the CLP appliances after checking.

The Federation of Trade Unions' Bill Tang Ka-piu warned employers they may face civil lawsuits on top of criminal charges for hiring illegal workers. "A lot of employers thought they held no responsibility for the safety of illegal workers. However, these workers are also protected by the Employees' Compensation Ordinance under the law," Tang said.

He urged the victim's family to fight for reasonable compensation, even if Qin was hired illegally.

The electrocution is the third industrial accident in less than a week.

Last Monday, three construction workers were killed by a rush of water into a cramped tunnel five meters below ground in Hung Hom. It was followed by a restaurant gas explosion on Wednesday, where a kitchen worker suffered burns to 90 percent of his body.

Chan Kam-hong, chief executive of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, said the penalties for employers who disregard workers' safety are too light and have no deterrent effect.