SCHOOL SAFETY: Programmes target students and staff, too
New Straits Times Online, 3 November 2013
IN an effort to make our schools safe places for study and work, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is offering to help the Education Ministry create awareness of safety and health in schools through the "OSH in school programme".
NIOSH has introduced the programme to more than a dozen schools with sponsorship from corporations.
In the past, there were reports of accidents in schools involving teachers, students and staff arising from the collapse of roof of building structures, ceiling fans, goal-posts and even toilets.
Therefore, safety and health are of paramount importance to schools. Safety issues cover school buildings, toilets, canteens, laboratories and school fields, etc.
Whenever the subject of safety is brought up, most schools are inclined to talk about hygiene, cleanliness and making schools safe from social ills and negative external influences, such as drug addiction, gangsterism and crime.
Little is known about the "OSH in school programme" which views school as a workplace, in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994.
In the case of schools, the working people are teachers, administrative and other support staff while the "others" are those affected by the activities of the working people, primarily the students.
The programme aims:
TO ensure safety, health and welfare of those at work;
TO protect the students from risk to safety and health in connection with the activities of persons at work; and,
TO establish a safe and healthy working environment involving the office, laboratory, canteen, toilet, hostel, fields, etc.
Through the "OSH in school programme", NIOSH hopes to impress on schools the importance of good OSH management. Hence, OSH awareness should not be limited to teachers and staff, but extended to students. This can be done through education, awareness, training and exhibitions which are NIOSH's core businesses.
Apart from that, instilling awareness at an early stage is important to creating a safe and healthy workplace. It is hoped that the programme will benefit the students.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health