Lee Lam Thye: Employers should work towards zero industrial accidents

Noor Hidayah Tanzizi

LUMUT: All parties should find ways to reduce the number of industrial accidents by setting the goal to achieve zero accidents at their workplaces.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the target could be achieved with strong commitment and support from all employers and workers.

He said the Social Security Organisation’s (SOCSO) statistics showed that the number of industrial accidents had dropped from 35,898 cases in 2013 to 35,294 in 2014 and 34,258 in 2015.

He also urged employers to help reduce the number of commuting accidents, which involved workers on the way to or from their workplaces, which had increased from 27,659 cases in 2013 to 28,037 (2014) and 28,579 (2015).

On industrial accidents, he said globalisation, intense competition and technological progress had drastically changed the working environment that led to new workplace hazards and risks.

Therefore, he said employees, employers and the enforcement authorities must always be prepared to face the new threats that could affect workers’ safety and health.

For example, he said they had to face serious threats such as the chlorine gas leakage that occurred at a chemical producing facility in Menglembu in September last year and if one works in the mining, quarrying or timber industries, accidents here could cause serious injuries or death.

“These problems can result in higher number of accidents at workplace and become the main factor for work-related health problems.

“Employers must ensure that all their workers are well trained while the workplace is also safe. We should set our target to have accident-free workplaces nationwide,” he said after opening the NIOSH’s satellite office at Bandar Seri Manjung here today.

He said the problem could be addressed effectively through proper training and good Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) practices.

However, he said a slow-down of the global economy might affect the OSH aspect as many employers were inclined to cut training cost while workers are concern about losing their jobs.

On another note, Lee said Manjung was chosen for NIOSH’s new office as it is strategically located and well connected to other districts.

Lee said the growth in the west coast of Perak would further increase when another mega infrastructure project, the 233km West Coast Expressway project from Banting to Taiping, is completed in 2019.

At present, he said Manjung is experiencing rapid development and therefore, requires comprehensive training in OSH.

Among big investments that had helped change Manjung’s landscape were TNB Janamanjung, Lumut Port Industrial Park, Petronas oil terminal, Lekir Permanent Food Production Park and Vale Malaysia Mineral Sdn Bhd’s iron ore plant.

“These projects have also spurred the growth in other sectors with the construction of hotels, shopping malls, private hospitals and institutions of higher learning apart from creating more job opportunities,” he said.

He said Manjung’s landscape had also changed in tandem with the development of Lumut as the Maritime and Tourism Town.

“Manjung also enjoys the spill-over effects from the tourism industry in Lumut, which also houses the biggest Royal Malaysian Navy base,” he said.

Lee said NIOSH decided to open its satellite office in Manjung after the demand for OSH courses had increased in Perak, particularly in Manjung District.

Between 2013 and 2015, he said NIOSH had organised 332 courses for 7,585 people in the state.

“Previously, all the courses were handled by our northern regional office and headquarters in Bandar Baru Bangi. The management has agreed to open the new office to cater for the increasing demand,” he said.

With the new facility, he said NIOSH aimed at training at least 3,000 participants in various OSH courses in Perak starting from this year.

He said among the most popular courses were Confined Space Training, Safety Passport and Competency Programme.