Government proposes to introduce Signboard Control System to enhance safety

The Development Bureau proposes to introduce a Signboard Control System (SBCS) to allow the continued use of certain existing unauthorised signboards after safety inspection, strengthening (if necessary), and certification by building professionals or registered contractors. The relevant legislative amendments and notice were gazetted today (May 24).

"The Buildings Department (BD) has been taking enforcement action against unauthorised signboards over the years. However, as many unauthorised signboards are in active use by business operations, their existence carries notable value for sustaining local commercial activities and contributing to Hong Kong's prosperity. The introduction of the SBCS would help enhance the safety of existing unauthorised signboards," a spokesman for the bureau said.

Following the gazettal of the Building (Minor Works) (Amendment) Regulation 2013 and the Buildings Legislation (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 (Commencement) Notice today, the subsidiary legislation will be tabled at the Legislative Council (LegCo) for negative vetting on May 29. Subject to scrutiny by LegCo, it is expected that the subsidiary legislation would come into effect on September 2, 2013.

Under the SBCS, all unauthorised signboards falling within the technical specifications and erected before September 2, 2013, would be eligible for validation upon application for joining the validation scheme. Safety inspection, strengthening, and certification of unauthorised signboards falling within specific classes, types and items under the Minor Works Control System should be carried out by the corresponding building professionals or registered contractors. The BD would conduct audit checks to ensure the applications conform to the requirements under the SBCS. The BD would not serve statutory orders against signboards validated under the SBCS.

In addition, to further enhance the safety of these validated signboards, the owners should, at intervals of not more than five years, either make a fresh validation submission for the signboards concerned or remove them. This would alleviate the potential danger posed by abandoned signboards as the BD would have information on those validated signboards which have not undergone the periodic safety inspection subsequently and can take appropriate action against them.

Before the implementation of the SBCS, the BD will launch a publicity programme to disseminate the message about the new system to signboard owners, the industry and the public. Technical guidelines and pamphlets on the detailed requirements of the SBCS will also be distributed to signboard owners, building professionals and contractors.

"It is the responsibility of all signboard owners to upkeep the safety of their signboards. Any person who intends to erect new signboards should carry out the works in accordance with the requirements under the law to ensure safety. After the SBCS comes into operation, the BD will continue to take rigorous enforcement action against any unauthorised signboards that have not been validated," the spokesman stressed.

Ends/Friday, May 24, 2013
Issued at HKT 12:10