The Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is a department under the Ministry of Human Resources. This department is responsible for ensuring the safety, health and welfare of people at work as well as protecting other people from the safety and health hazards arising from the activities sectors which include:
- Mining and Quarrying
- Hotels and Restaurant
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
- Transport, Storage and Communication
- Public Services and Statutory Authorities
- Utilities - Gas, Electricity, Water and Sanitary Services
- Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services
- Wholesale and Retail Trades
As a government agency, the department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of legislations related to occupational safety and health of the country, with a vision of becoming an organisation which leads the nation in creating a safe and healthy work culture that contributes towards enhancing the quality of working life.
Vision and Mission
"To be the leader of Occupational Safety and Health"
"To ensure Safety and Health at Work"
Objectives and Corporate Values
To prevent industrial accidents and occupational diseases by the year 2020 through:
- Reduction in rate of fatalities to 4.36/100,000 workers;
- Reduction in rate of accidents to 2.53/1000 workers; and
- Increase in reporting of occupational diseases and poisoning among workers by 30%.
"Firm, Fair and Friendly"
- To study and review the policies and legislations of occupational safety and health.
- To enforce the following legislations :
a) Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 and its regulations.
b) Factories and Machinery Act 1967 and its regulations.
c) Part of Petroleum Act 1984 (Safety Measures) and its regulations.
- To conduct research and technical analysis on issues related to occupational safety and health at the workplace.
- To carry out promotional and publicity programs to employers, workers and the general public to foster and increase the awareness of occupational safety and health.
- To become a secretariat for the National Council regarding occupational safety and health.
The Role and Development
The role of occupational safety and health has been in existence since 120 years ago, in the late 19th century. It started with steam boiler safety and then followed by machinery safety. After that, it was continued with industrial safety, industrial safety and hygiene and lastly occupational safety and health that covers every work sector. The history, role and development of this Department can be explained in six eras.
1. Steam Boiler Safety Era - before 1914
Steam boiler enactments at that time were state oriented as each of the four allied Malay states or Negeri-Negeri Melayu Bersekutu (Perak, Selangor, Pahang and Negeri Sembilan) uses its own steam boiler law. The first steam boiler law of Malaysia was believed to be legislated in Selangor, which is the Selangor Boiler Enactment 1892. Meanwhile in Perak, their first steam boiler law was enforced in the year 1903. Only by 1908, did the Allied Malay States have a uniform steam boiler legislation that was enforced by inspectors of boiler.
2. Machinery Safety Era - 1914 till 1952
In the year 1932, the Machinery Enactment of 1913 was abolished and replaced with Machinery Enactment of 1932. Registration and inspection of installation were enforced.
At that time, the inspectors of machinery was under the administration of the Mineral Department, under the machinery branch. This was because most machineries were being used in the mining sector and furthermore, mining was also the main industry.
3. Industrial Safety Era - 1953 till 1967
In 1953, all of the machinery enactments of the Allied Malay States (Negeri-Negeri Melayu Bersekutu), Non-Allied Malays States (Negeri-Negeri Melayu Tidak Bersekutu) and Strait States (Negeri-Negeri Selat) were abolished and replaced with the Machinery Ordinance 1953. With the enforcement of this ordinance, the roles of inspectors were not only limited to steam boiler or machinery safety but also covered all aspect of factory workers safety where those machineries were being used. Ordinance 1953 lack a lot in worker's health aspects even though there were regulations on safety, health and welfare of workers under the ordinance, as it was not fully enforced. The main provisions of the ordinance were as follows:
- Hence there must be established a Board of Inspectors with powers to conduct inspections and to approve certificates of fitness;
- Hence regulations can be made;
- Hence only machinery with approval certificates can be use;
- Hence only approved persons can operate machineries;
- Hence approval from Inspections must be given before a machine can be licensed or be modified;
- Hence all accidents to person or property relating to machinery must be notified and investigated;
- Hence no person should be acting in a manner that could cause injury to others or to use safety tools;
- Hence no person should be acting in a manner that could cause injury to others or to use safety tools;
- Hence all non-complying machinery should not be sold, borrowed or rented; and
- Hence Inspectors are given powers to enter premises and to stop unsafe machineries.
4. Industrial Safety and Hygiene – 1970 till 1994
Generally, the Act was drafted to provide minimum standard of safety, health and welfare of workers at workplace consisting of 5 employees or more and at premises which machinery were being used, including factories, building construction sites and works of engineering construction. The Act was only enforced in Peninsula Malaysia until 1980 when it was further enforced in Sabah and Sarawak. Until the year 1968, Chief Inspectors were made up of British citizens. By 1968, the posts of inspectors in the Machinery Department were fully filled by locals. The year 1968 was also the year when the post of Medical Officer and Surveillance Unit was created in the department. The unit did not stay that long under the Labour Ministry as it was placed under the administration of the Health Ministry in the year 1971.
This era also witnessed the existence of a few important activities and sections like the formation of the Anti-Pollution Section in the year 1971; formation of Industrial Hygiene Unit in the year 1971 and upgrade of its status to Industrial Hygiene Section in the year 1980.; start of petroleum safety activities with the formation of Petroleum Safety Section in the year 1985; start of special inspection activities to prevent major industrial accident; industrial safety and health activity exercises with expert help from International Labour Organisation in the year 1987; formation of C.I.S in 1988; and formation of Major Hazards Section in the year 1991. Petroleum Act (Safety Measures) was enforced in the year 1984 and its enforcement is carried out by a few government agencies including the Factory and Machinery Department. The department enforced provisions in the act relating to transportation of petroleum using pipeline, petroleum distribution, storage and also related equipment and instrument. Regulations (Safety Measures) (Transportation of Petroleum By Pipelines) 1985 have been fully enforced by the department. With these new responsibilities, the Factory and Machinery inspectors were also gazetted as Petroleum Inspector.
Suggestion to establish a National Institute Of Occupational Safety and Health had been carried forward by the department to the National Advisor Council Of Occupational Safety and Health in the year 1985. The Cabinet approve the establishment of the institute in 1991 and its opening was officiated by the Minister Of Human Resource on December 1992. The institute is a government-backed company with the purpose to do training activities; information pooling and dissemination; research and development in occupational safety and health.
A national workshop on occupational safety and health information strategy development was organised by the Factory and Machinery Department, Asia-OSH and International Labour Organisation (ILO) on 26-28 April 1993. The purpose of this workshop was to create an information link relating to occupational safety and health practices in order to enhance information transfer and dissemination. After the reorganisation of the Department in 1969, a lot of changes have taken place due to the country’s speedy economic development and the enforcement of laws related to the department.
5. Occupational Safety and Health Era – after 1994
The purpose of Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 is to promote and encourage occupational safety and health awareness among workers and to create organisation along with effective safety and health measures. This would be carried out by self-regulation schemes that match the industry or related organisation. This Act, which contains 15 section, is a measure that supersedes any conflict in existing occupational safety and health laws such as the Factory and Machinery Act 1967. The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 complements any existing legislative provision and if there are any conflicts, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 will overcome it.
This Act also defines the responsibilities of employers, manufacturer, employees, self-employed workers, designers, importers and vendors. Even though those responsibilities are general, it would still need serious attention and would carry all kind of liabilities. There are three main principles that had been taken as the foundation in the drafting of this Act. The first principle is self-regulation. To handle issues relating to occupational safety and health, employers must develop a good and orderly management system. Starting with formation of a safety and health policy and consequently employers have to make the proper arrangements to be carried out. The second principle is consultation, where employers, employees and the government must negotiate to settle issues and problems relating to occupational safety and health at the workplace. The third principle is co-operation, where employers and employees must co-operate to take care, nurture and to increase the quality of occupational safety and health at the workplace. Without co-operation between employers and employees, none of the occupational safety and health programmes carried out would succeed.
This Act also provide for the appointments of enforcement officers, establishment of National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, formation of policy and arrangement of measures to protect safety, health and welfare of people at work and others who might be endangered by the activities of people at work. The powers to enforce, to inspect and the liabilities for breaking the law are also clearly defined.
With the approval of this Act, starting from April 1994 the Department of Factory and Machinery has been renamed as the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and the Inspectors are called Occupational Safety and Health Officers.
Under this act, industrial sectors that are covered by it are as follows:
- mining and quarrying
- agriculture, forestry and fishing
- utilities - gas, electric, water and sanitary services
- transport, storage and communication
- wholesale and retail traders
- hotels and restaurants
- finance, insurance, real estate, business service
- public services and statutory authorities
6. OSHMP 15 Era
In particular of OSH's context, Malaysia can learn, adapt and implement OSH from foreign countries tandem with country's industry and economy growth.Therefore,OSH Master Plan has been established by taking into account all the possibilities that will happen.
Occupational Safety and Health -Master Plan 2015 was launched by the Prime Minister of Malaysia on May 2, 2009 with the main objective to develop a safe, healthy and productive human capital by adopting, promoting and maintaining a safe and healthy work culture at the workplace. The Master Plan was developed in accordance with government direction which each strategy is developed to support the foundations towards a National"High In come,Advance Technology" later in 2020.
7. OSHMP 2020
The 2016-2020 Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan is the strategy and programme formulated to further boost national occupational safety and health (OSH) to greater effort to protect the nation's human resources are an important asset to the success of national development programs in order to realize the goals of Vision 2020. Excellence OSH level will improve the employee’s quality of life and thus contribute to increased productivity and index components under the Work Environment Index of Malaysia Social Welfare in line with the policy and the country's transformation plan to achieve Vision 2020.
This master plan is a continuation of the previous OSH strategic plan and master plan started in 2006 which were premised on a Safe and Healthy Work Culture among employers and employees. Safe and Healthy Work Culture is a cornerstone in making workplaces safer and healthier in Malaysia through a strategic program to prevent accidents and occupational diseases.
The main strategy of the OSH-MP 2020 is the inculcation of a Preventive Culture at the workplace. This approach will follow through with the implementation and inculcation of the principle of responsibility and self-regulation carried out in the previous two plans in order to bolster the nurturing of a Safe and Healthy Work Culture among employers and workers.
The Preventive Culture places a high premium on awareness, responsibility and commitment among employers and workers, respect for the rights of workers with regard to OSH, encouragement of the involvement of workers in OSH activities, enhanced OSH knowledge and skills, as well as capable OSH management that is founded on effective risk management. The desired outcome is the transformation of the workplace in this country into a safe and healthy environment to protect the most important asset – the workers.
OSH achievements in this country, since the implementation of the previous of two strategic plans, reveal a positive effect in the improved working environment index under Index of Social Welfare Malaysia by decreasing the number and rate of workplace accidents.
Where industrial hygiene is concerned, 1,198 cases of occupational diseases and poisoning were reported to the Department in 2011 compared to 5,617 cases in 2015. The number of cases reported in 2011-2015 was 13,843. Nevertheless, this number remains low compared to the number reported in developed nations. This shows that an issue commonly faced by many countries, including Malaysia, is unreported cases of occupational diseases.
With the conviction that the Safe and Healthy Work Culture will improve the well-being of employers, workers and the country, the five-year OSH-MP 2020 focuses efforts to reduce the rate of accidents and death by 10% by reducing the rate of accidents to 2.53 per 1,000 workers and the rate of fatalities to 4.36 per 100,000 workers come 2020. This OSH master plan will also ensure an increase in the reporting of occupational diseases and poisoning by 30% come 2020 compared to the rate in 2015.
To realise this goal, the OSH-MP 2020 employs five main strategies founded on the endeavour to increase stakeholder awareness, responsibility and commitment to OSH. All quarters must move together to fulfil their respective responsibilities and roles to create a safe and healthy workplace through the inculcation of the values of the Preventive Culture. These 5 strategies are Government leadership, strengthening of OSH management at the workplace, OSH sharing and network, international OSH strategic alliance and mainstreaming of industrial hygiene.
These 5 strategies of the OSH-MP 2020 are in turn reinforced by various programmes and activities focused on nurturing the Preventive Culture among employers and workers. To ensure its success, aside from the commitment of employers and workers, the OSH-MP 2020 outlines the duties and responsibilities of all stakeholders which are the Government, associations, competent persons and relevant parties with influence over employers and workers.
The involvement and cooperation of all quarters are the crux of success of this master plan to bring about an enhanced employee’s quality of working life, increased organisational productivity and competitiveness and thus contributing to the improvement of Malaysia's Welfare Index as a guide to the quality of life of Malaysians.