I REFER to the call by the Human Resources Ministry to create a safer and healthier workplace.

To do that, it is important to increase the level of awareness in occupational safety and health (OSH)-related issues among employers and employees.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA), it is stated that both employers and employees are crucial in providing a safer and healthier workplace.

Both have roles to play, but combined, they can provide a comprehensive OSH management programme in a workplace.

Therefore, OSH education is essential in raising awareness and providing information, as well as skills.

They can be in the form of formal and technical education, such as higher learning and competency programmes, by OSH bodies such as the National Institute Of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Malaysia. More than 40,000 work-related accidents and diseases were reported last year, and 7,820 of these cases involved occupational diseases.

The number of reported occupational diseases might be lower, but the numbers may not represent the actual incidents.

However, occupational diseases resulting from adverse reaction to prolonged exposure to dangerous and hazardous situation take years to be detected. The individual might not even be working in the place of exposure any more when the disease is finally diagnosed.

Therefore, all employees need to be educated on the risks at workplaces. Only then can they be protected. Raising awareness is the first step towards producing safer and healthier workplaces.

Mohd Hafiidz Jaafar
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang