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‘Instil workplace safety culture’

New Straits Times Online, 6 July 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: ORGANISATIONS and employers should create a safe and healthy workplace to prevent accidents, said the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Its chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, said for a workplace safety culture to be developed, there must be a “buy-in” by organisations to embrace safety and for employers to accept occupational safety and health (OSH) as an investment and not a cost.

Lee said the integration of safety and developing a system for hazard identification and control were important elements of a safety culture.

He said workplace safety culture was very much related to attitudes, behaviour, beliefs and values of employers and employees.

“A strong safety and healthy culture is the result of positive workplace attitudes from the chief executive officer to the newest hire and the lowest ranking employee, coupled with meaningful and measureable safety and health improvement goals directed towards accident prevention or zero-accident.

“The basic elements of an OSH culture are that all employees within an organisation have the fundamental right to a safe and healthy workplace, accept full responsibility for ensuring his or her own safety and health, and have a duty to protect the safety and health of others.”

Lee said the ability to communicate effectively in an organisation among employees and between employees and employers was important in creating a safety culture.

Trusting employees and encouraging them to solve problems would increase their sense of
responsibility and enhance their motivation to take ownership of OSH issues at the workplace, he said.

“For OSH to create an impact on the individual, which is most essential for a safety culture, we need to empower each individual to make the right decisions in the face of safety threats based on his or
her knowledge of OSH,” he said, while speaking at the 29th annual Conference of Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organisation (APOSHO) in Bangkok yesterday.

He added that leadership in an organisation was the single most critical factor in determining an OSH culture where employers gave emphasis to employee well-being and productivity.

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