All Eyes On OSH Master Plan 2021-2025

By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye


KOTA KINABALU: There is a common fallacy that occupational safety and health are issues of concern only for those at workplaces and during working hours.

OSH, as its acronym, has far-reaching other consequences as well, affecting productivity, the lives of workers’ dependents, the economic costs of delayed work, increased insurance and other costs, and its impact on public health services.

This means OSH has long-term implications down the value chain.

The consequences of neglect in occupational safety and health have therefore ramifications for society as a whole.

As such, it is welcome news that the Government has rolled out the long-awaited Occupational Safety and Health Master Plan 2021-2025. This Plan is a much-improved version compared to previous Master Plans.

The Plan takes into account several factors that have changed our way of life since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Among the more significant changes, as referred to by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri yesterday, is the fact that now almost all homes, cafes, and restaurants have been transformed into workspaces. And so, OSH is all-pervasive.

Among the emphasis in the Master Plan is one on the civil service and the Government sector which are now required to show greater commitment to ensuring compliance with rules and regulations regarding safety and health.

The public sector must set the example. It must show leadership by example.

Owners of small and medium-scale industries must embrace all aspects of the OSH Master Plan as they form the backbone of the nation’s economy.

In this respect, there is no substitute for self-regulation. Following safe and tested practices begins with the individual, both at home, and at our workplaces. We must set our house in order first.

Self-regulation also requires acquiring adequate knowledge of the principles and practices of health and safety. This is where education plays an important role.

Perhaps the Ministry of Education can consider including some universal principles in the school curriculum to inculcate safety and health consciousness at an early age.

It is proposed that to encourage SMEs and SMIs to embrace self-regulation, the Government should allow companies to use their HRDF contributions to implement self-regulation.

And then there is the question of empowerment. Factory owners must empower key employees to be the eyes and ears of the company to ensure SOPs for OSH are complied with.

Needless to say, this OSH Master Plan will only work if there is full commitment by all the parties concerned. Only then can we hope to see zero accidents at the workplace.


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