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Employers not keen on investing in workers’ safety – FMM Sabah

Borneo Post Online, 12 December 2012

KOTA KINABALU: Most factories and employers in Malaysia do not appear keen to invest in their workers’ safety, said Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) Sabah chairman Jay Rahman.

He made this statement highlighting the attitude of most factories and employers in the country towards the safety and wellbeing of their workers as a way of impressing on members of FMM on the dire situation after launching the FMM Safety Conference on “Making Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) A Culture At the Workplace” yesterday.

“There seem to be no serious effort (on the part of the employers) towards workers’ safety…it is a cost to them. And this is why we want OSH to be a Malaysian culture,” he said.

In his speech earlier, Jay, who is a member of the FMM National Council, mentioned that investing to improve OSH at the workplace should not be seen as a cost but should be regarded as a productivity booster.

“We know from many observations that the improvement in workplace environment was the results of good safety and health work practices and the adoption of a work safety culture,” he said.

He added that while there appeared to be increasing awareness about the need for a safe and healthy work environment, only a sustained commitment to an OSH management system would help to inculcate the OSH culture in the organization.

“That is why we have chosen the theme for our safety conference today, ‘Making OSH A Culture At the Workplace’. I think with the rapid increase of global competitiveness, companies should not only make safety a priority but to ensure that it becomes a culture in the organization,” he said.

Meanwhile, Social Security Organisation State Director Mariam Haji Hassan concurred with Jay’s comments on the negative attitudes of employers on matters relating to OSH.

“They view it as an obligation, a cost,” she said.

Cetak

Industrial accidents down in M’sia but commuting ones up — Niosh chairman

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.

Cetak

OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY: Ergonomics cuts down injuries at workplace

New Straits Times Online, 16 December 2012

EXCEPT for occupational safety and health practitioners, ergonomics is still not widely known in Malaysia.

At a recent talk I delivered on the importance of ergonomics, a member of the audience asked me whether I had mispronounced the word "economics".

Ergonomics is about integrating knowledge derived from the human sciences to match jobs, systems, products and environments to the physical and mental abilities and limitations.

Ergonomics is an important facet of occupational safety and health (OSH) that needs to be optimised for the wellbeing of people at work.

Ergonomics is a relatively new field in Malaysia in comparison with Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Nevertheless, the philosophy, essence, principle and concepts of ergonomics are important and to disregard them would be a handicap in efforts to promote OSH in the workplace.

When ergonomic principles are not applied to the workplace, chronic musculoskeletal disorders -- such as back injuries, arm and hand problems, accidents and eye-strain -- may be common.

According to accident statistics reported by the Social Security Organisation, the number of accidents related to musculo-skeletal diseases increased from 14 cases in 2006 to 194 cases this year.

Industries suffer from tangible and intangible losses because of increased medication costs, decreased productivity, work quality and decreased worker morale.

It is well documented in other parts of the world that industries that implement ergonomics programmes report significant decreases in accidents, injuries, illnesses and healthcare costs over time, along with increase in productivity, work efficiency, product quality and worker morale.

The discipline of ergonomics is nothing peculiar to safety and health practitioners in this country but for the public, it is still difficult to sell.

This might be the reason why ergonomics is still considered an unknown science in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

But due to the widespread use of computers at work and at home, there is a need to educate the public on the importance of ergonomics.

In some developed countries, ergonomics is even taught in schools. For example, in the UK, the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors has introduced ergonomics to secondary school students and teachers online.

The knowledge gap on this subject needs to be addressed by all the government, educational institutions, professional societies and the work industry.

It is timely for the media to show more interest in publishing safety and health information, including ergonomics issues, with input from like the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Malaysia.

Cetak

Lam Thye: Workplace safety culture vital

New Straits Times Online, 19 December 2012

KOTA KINABALU: Occupational safety and health in the hospitality industry needs to be given more attention as it is a rapidly growing industry.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said yesterday it was no longer a "safe and clean" sector and it merited more attention from employers.

Lee said this after attending a two-day seminar on occupational safety and health for the hospitality industry in Sandakan organised by Niosh.

He urged employers to empower workers through safety and health committees to reduce accidents, injuries and deaths in workplaces.

"While life-threatening and acute injuries are uncommon in the hospitality industry, work-related hazards do exist," he said.

"Although accidents can and do happen, there are measures we can adopt to limit their occurrence.

"Accidents can be reduced if we make prudent and cautious work practices part of our culture."

In the last 10 years, the industrial accident rate in Malaysia had been halved from 10.3 cases for every 1,000 workers in 2002 to 5.7 cases last year.

This reflected the strong commitment by the government, employers and the workers to reduce accidents.

Lee said Malaysians needed to set a higher benchmark at three to four cases every 1,000 workers, on a par with those in developed countries.

"Human behaviour and lackadaisical attitudes towards safety must change for the better.

"Anyone can be involved in an accident, unless safety is not taken for granted and safe work practices are implemented."

Cetak

Dept fines 54 in Sabah for flouting act

New Straits Times Online, 10 December 2012

SANDAKAN: The people have been getting better protection from occupational hazards through the setting up of Occupational Safety and Health Department (DOSH) branches here and in Tawau early this year.

DOSH director-general Datuk Dr Johari Basri said in the first 11 months, 54 compound notices were issued to employers in the state who failed to comply with regulations under the Factories and Machinery Act.

"The offences included failing to register their construction sites, or to get permits to occupy factories.

"Until now, we have collected RM192,500 from the compound notices," he said at an occupational safety and health seminar on Saturday.

His speech was read by state DOSH director Mohamad Razak Ismail. Johari said 29 of the cases were resolved with fines of RM368,500.

Among these cases were fatal accidents at the workplace and permanent disabilities, as well as failure to report accidents.

He said department had also audited 2,363 non-factory workplaces involving agricultural, services, commercial and other sectors.

"The audit shows there is a need to improve working environment practices."

Kaunter Perkhidmatan

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Aras 4 (Kaunter Utama), Blok D3, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62530 Putrajaya
(T): 03 - 8886 5343
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