OCCUPATIONAL Safety and Health (OSH) or safety at the workplace, must never be taken for granted.
The recent fatal accidents involving MRT construction sites as well as other workplace accidents over the years clearly shows that more needs to be done to promote and implement good OSH practices in the country.
Although Malaysia’s industrial accident rate has been reduced to 36 per cent over the past 10 years (2003-2013), the remaining challenge would be to build and foster an OSH culture in this country and strive for an accident-free workplace environment.
The latest statistics from the Human Resources Ministry indicate that the industrial accident rate had fallen from 5.84 cases for every 1,000 workers in 2004 to 3.28 cases last year. The reduction is a reflection of the commitment and joint efforts by the Government, employers and employees.
The biggest challenge that remains is not only to further reduce the accident rate in the days ahead but also to make OSH a culture and a way of life in contributing towards an accident-free work environment.
It is the responsibility of employers and managements to ensure that safety is a culture at their organisation and not just a priority.
There is an urgent need to translate OSH knowledge into behaviour and practical application. OSH sloganeering is not the answer. We must avoid a situation where, behind all the OSH banners and signages, the workplace hazards are not addressed and controlled.
In this connection, innovation and innovative practices play a crucial role in improving the OSH landscape and shaping Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems (OSHMS) for the future. Dedicated professionals need to work tirelessly to formulate better safety and health policies, and implement effective systems with the objective of achieving “zero accident” at the workplace.
If we want better outcomes for our systems, and ensure their efficiency and effectiveness, we need to encourage innovation of not just the products, services and processes but also the system itself.
The quest for OSH sustainability is already starting to transform the competitive landscape, which will compel companies to change the way they think about safety and health at the workplace. The key challenge is to enhance the safety, health and well-being of our workforce by introducing innovative measures, particularly at the workplace.
Establishing a safe and healthy work environment requires fundamental changes in the way work is designed and personnel are deployed, and how the very culture of the organisation understands and acts on safety.
These changes require leadership capable of transforming not just a physical environment but also the beliefs and practices of those who create the risk and those who work with the risk.
Managements who are responsible for the safety and health at the workplace can change the attitude of safety and health of their employees by ensuring an annual budget for safety training, and education to help prevent work-related accidents and diseases among the workforce. Accidents do not just happen, they are preventable.
In this time of global competition and sweeping change, it is not enough for companies to make safety a priority. Priorities change but cultures stand the test of time. Safety must be a culture and a core value at the workplace. And certainly managing occupational safety and health ensures business competitiveness.
The Global Trend in OSH is towards a more integrated prevention concept. OSH is now regarded as a societal responsibility and countries are required to have a blueprint for building an accident prevention culture with a framework for national and international prevention strategies.
Observations and evidence have shown that an increase in productivity and an improvement in workplace environment were the results of good safety and health work practices and the adoption of a work safety culture. Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Kuala Lumpur NST Letters 5 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:06 AM