Compulsory for schools with 40 staff members to have OSH committee

Veena Babulal

KAJANG: As of this year all schools with at least 40 staff are required to set up an Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) committee.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot Jaem stressed this while opening a seminar on OSH in schools, which was attended by some 300 teachers, administrators and officers from schools nationwide.

Asked on why the requirement, as stated in the Safe School Concept and Manual introduced in 2002, was not implemented sooner, Richard said the parties involved were “perhaps not so serious in setting up the committee”.

“But this year, especially with this seminar that is to be held in other schools, we believe the implementation of what is stated in the book can be stricter,” he told reporters during a press conference after opening the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) headquarters in Bangi here, yesterday.

Richard said the seminar, which was organised by NIOSH and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) in partnership with the Education Ministry (MOE), was to create a platform for teachers and school management to discuss OSH matters.

He also said the engagement was crucial to prevent accidents, especially fatal incidents as there are five million students and nearly half a million teachers in 10,000 schools throughout Malaysia.

Richard also pointed out the death of a 14-year-old student after a goal post fell on him in Gua Musang, Kelantan last year.

“It could have been avoided if the school administers took steps to examine their equipment from time to time,” he said.

Dosh Director-General Dato Mohtar Musri said 31 school-related accidents were recorded in the past five years which included “isolated” incidents involving deaths where goal posts or fans fell on students. There were also incidents of students coming into contact with chemicals such as mercury in science labs.

He also said the ministry was empowered by the 1994 Occupational Safety and Health Act to take action on anyone who violates the law in schools or construction sites.

He said DOSH could compound or issue stop work orders on construction sites where accidents occurred, adding that quite a number of such directives were given out in the past few years.

Richard also alluded that the move was an effective deterrent, by stating that contractors and developers were keen to follow OSH requirements over fear of losses.

MOE’s school management division director Aminuddin Adam said in their second annual audit in August 2016, the 10,000 schools nationwide achieved a high average rating of 97 per cent in OSH matters.

He said the Education Ministry had also distributed Safe School Concept and Manual reminders to the schools, adding that the handbook was constantly updated.

The seminar has been conducted in more than 50 schools to date, since 2014. The earliest seminar was done in SMK Convent Kajang in 2003.

Also present at the event today was NIOSH chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.