Amendments Extend OSHA Coverage to Every Workplace

The amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA 1994) would require every workplace employing more than 500 workers to have an occupational safety and health (OSH) coordinator, to ensure better protection and safety in the workplace.

This was shared by Ir Ts Dr Majahar Abdul Rahman, Director of International Policy and Research Development Division, Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), during the webinar on “Transitioning into Covid-19 Endemic Phase for the Food Industry” on 1 December 2021.

Dr Majahar highlighted the need for every workplace to be covered by OSHA.

Dr Majahar was speaking on “Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan 2021-2025: New OSH Landscape”. About 65 people joined the virtual event organised by the Malaysian Institute of Food Technology, WOU and Soon Soon Group, and moderated by WOU Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

He informed that one of the requirements under the OSHA amendments passed by the Dewan Rakyat recently was that “every workplace that employs more than 500 workers must have an OSH coordinator among their workers”. The coordinator must undergo basic training – less than a week – in OSH to assist the employer in managing occupational safety and health-related issues in the workplace. The OSH coordinator is appointed from existing employees.

DOSH focus is on Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

He said currently not all workplaces need to have OSH practitioners, as this depends on the type of industry and work activities. He elaborated that the Safety and Health Officer Regulations 1997 stipulates that certain category of workplaces, like construction activities with more than RM20million contract value, need to have a safety and health officer.

Others presently required to employ a full-time safety and health officer are “general manufacturing activities employing more than 500 workers” and “high risk manufacturing activities with more than 100 workers”. He said the safety and health officer must be a competent person who has undertaken the training modules in OSH by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Dr Ahmad Fitri defines occupational diseases.

Meanwhile Dr Ahmad Fitri Abdullah Hair, Director of Occupational Health Division, DOSH, in his talk on ‘Occupational Diseases in Malaysia: Trend Analysis and Way Forward’, pointed out that the reporting of Covid cases comes under the ‘disease caused by biological agent’ category.

He explained that DOSH only considers Covid cases related to work, like healthcare or other frontline workers. He said about 500 work-related Covid-19 cases were reported in 2020 and another 800-900 this year. He highlighted that work-related or occupational Covid cases encompass workers whose tasks involve exposure to the hazard, such as treating Covid patients, adding, “Occupational cases do not cover workers who infect other workers in the workplace.”

Dr Ahmad Fitri is the Director of Occupational Health at DOSH.

He said the role of DOSH is to assist the Ministry of Health to ensure compliance of the Covid SOPs set by the National Security Council at the workplace, stressing that any closure of sites or workplaces to control transmissions among workers is handled by the MOH.

On industry concerns of lockdowns affecting the economy and livelihood of workers, Dr Majahar empathised but reiterated the need for workplaces to comply with OSH regulations and the SOPs for the sake of prevention.

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