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Schools must adopt OSH

The Star Online, 15 July 2016
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE - Chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health

THE death of the student in a school in Gua Musang is another tragic incident that could have been prevented if there had been constant monitoring of all sports facilities and adoption of safety measures to prevent accidents.

In the incident on the morning of July 12, Nik Mohd Lutfi Nik Kamarudin, 14, a student of SMK Tengku Indera Petra 2, was playing football with his friends when the goalpost collapsed and struck his head.

This goalpost incident in Gua Musang is not an isolated case as there have been other accidents involving students in the past.

The goalposts in schools or public fields can be rusty, very old and damaged due to wear and tear. Goalposts that are poorly maintained and have no restraining devices to prevent them from falling over pose a hazard for football or hockey players, especially children.

The Education Ministry must make it mandatory for schools to conduct safety audits on all their facilities every year to ensure that they are safe and conducive for learning. National Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) believes that occupational safety and health (OSH) should be introduced in schools in light of several previous accidents that have happened in classrooms, laboratories, toilets and other facilities.

NIOSH has initiated a programme called “OSH in School” to raise awareness among students and teachers of the importance of ensuring safety and health in school. The programme views the school as a workplace in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994. The application of OSHA to schools as places of work aims to make them safe and healthy for teachers, students and visitors.

OSH in School aims to: > Ensure safety, health and welfare for those at work; > Protect the students against risk to safety and health in connection with the activities of persons at work; and > Establish a safe and healthy working environment involving the office, laboratory, canteen, toilets, hostels, fields, etc. NIOSH has successfully introduced the programme to more than a dozen schools in the country with sponsorship from corporate organisations. Through the programme, NIOSH hopes to recommend to the school administrators that good OSH management is a solution to all problems related to safety in their environment. This way, they will be more aware of the potential safety and health hazards and more capable of dealing with them. This can be done through OSH education, awareness, training and exhibitions, which are NIOSH’s core businesses. Instilling awareness on the importance of a safe and healthy workplace in school will also give the students, who will join the workforce in the future, a good grounding in occupational safety and health. With greater safety and health awareness in schools, unnecessary deaths can be prevented and parents will be assured of the safety of their children.

Cetak Emel