Borneo Post Online, 18 December 2012
KOTA KINABALU: Industrial accidents are on the decline in Malaysia but commuting accidents have increased almost 40 per cent in the past six years from 17,704 cases in 2006 to 24,809 in 2011.
“Commuting accidents involving our workforce has been on the increase every year since 2006.
“The manufacturing sector has the highest number of accidents at work and also commuting accidents with 22,760 cases or 38 percent share of the total accidents,” said National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye yesterday.
Lee pointed out in a statement that the world of work is changing dramatically with major impact on workers’ safety and health and new challenges due to globalization, demographic change, migration, evolving family structures and the impact of worldwide economic and financial crisis.
While safety risks and resulting work accidents are diminishing, work related commuting accidents are on the rise. The International Labour Organization (ILO) stated that 2.2 million work-related deaths occurred every year in which 350,000 deaths were from accidents at work, 1.7 million due to occupational diseases and 158,000 due to commuting accidents.
A major occupational safety and health issue in Malaysia is the one related to commuting accidents involving employees who commute from their home to their place of work and vice versa.
The number of road fatalities in Malaysia is alarming. There are more than 6,000 fatalities every year for the last few years and that translates into 18-20 people killed everyday. Motorcyclists and pillion riders make up about 60% of the fatalities and most of them are young and in the prime of their lives.
In Malaysia, according to our Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) that there were three work-related deaths every day in 2011. Two out of the three deaths were due to commuting accidents indicating a serious situation in the country.
SOCSO also revealed that overall accident rate had been significantly reduced by 37 per cent from 95,006 accidents in 2000 to 59,897 in 2011 due to enhancement of occupational safety and health awareness and enforcement of laws and regulations which have been put in place for the past 10 years.
While there is a general trend to indicate that industrial accidents are on the decline, however, the number of commuting accidents has increased almost 40% in the past six years from 17,704 accidents in 2006 to 24,809 accidents in 2011.
According to SOCSO, commuting accidents involving our workforce has been on the rise every year since 2006. In 2006, 17,704 cases were recorded whereas by 2011 the number increased to 24,809.
The impact of commuting accidents is far greater than the industrial accidents as commuting accidents normally involve multiple injuries and the injuries sustained during these accidents are far more worse and traumatizing when compared to the workplace accidents.
The problems related to the rising number of commuting accidents are lack of awareness among the workers for safe riding and driving while commuting to work, lack of comprehensive training programme targeted to commuting accidents, lack of Commuting Safety Management or lack of road safety elements in OSH Management System at workplaces.
Currently, there are many government departments and agencies involved in road accident prevention programmes such as RTD, MIROS, JKJR, the Police, SOCSO, DOSH, NIOSH and others.
But there is no single authority to enforce the commuting accident prevention programmes. The government needs to take this matter seriously.
Regarding behavioural changes of motorists and drivers, serious action must be taken to develop programmes that could change their attitude towards safe driving.
Based on SOCSO’s statistic, accidents happen on the way to work in the morning. It may happen because workers rush to work. Based on the statistic, other underlying factors are speeding, reckless driving, texting and lack of focus.
Driving schools should incorporate the behavioral change into their syllabus. Probably, these programmes should be extended to colleges and universities.
NIOSH is working on improving the training module for future safe motorcycle riding and defensive driving courses.
Employers have a moral obligation to adopt a proactive approach to managing occupational road risk.
They can do much to change the driving attitude and behaviour of their employees. The employers can help devise safe journeys, using safe vehicles and providing driver training to prevent road accidents.
Employers also have a duty to protect their employees and other road users by adopting the approach of managing road risk in order to control the very significant business losses which arise from ‘at work’ road accidents, including not only direct accident costs, but lost staff time, higher insurance premiums and poor public image.
Companies which take action to promote the safety of their staff while driving will achieve major cost savings, improve their image and make a significant contribution to meeting road safety targets.
Employers and employees have to collaborate and be committed to build a culture of commuting accident prevention for a healthy and safe future.