Sunday, December 28, 2014

MALAYSIA:::Need to ensure workers’ safety on the road

AS the year draws to a close, I wish to call on employers and employees to look back and review their efforts in reducing commuting accidents on the roads.
While industrial accidents are generally on the decline, the number of commuting accidents involving employees has increased 25 per cent in the past three years, from 22,036 accidents with 1,194 deaths in 2010 to 27,659 accidents with 933 deaths last year, as reported by the Social Security Organisation (Socso). For the first seven months of this year, 16,203 commuting accidents with 566 deaths were reported.
While safety risks and resulting work accidents are manageable, work-related commuting accidents are on the rise.

The International Labour Organisation stated that 2.2 million work-related deaths occurred every year — 350,000 deaths from accidents at work, 1.7 million due to occupational diseases and 158,000 due to commuting accidents.
A major occupational safety and health issue in Malaysia is commuting accidents among employees making their way to work from home and vice versa.
The number of road fatalities in Malaysia is alarming. There were more than 6,000 fatalities every year in the last few years, which translates to 18 to 20 people killed every day. Motorcyclists and pillion riders make up about 60 per cent of these fatalities, with most in the prime of their lives.
Commuting accidents normally involve multiple injuries, which are far worse and traumatising compared with workplace accidents.
The problems related to the rising number of commuting accidents are lack of awareness and concentration among workers for safe riding and driving while commuting to work, lack of comprehensive training programmes aimed at preventing commuting accidents, lack of commuting safety management or lack of road safety elements in occupational safety and health management systems at workplaces.
Based on Socso statistics, accidents happen because workers rush to work or other underlying factors, like speeding, reckless driving, texting and lack of focus.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health is encouraging employers to commit their employees to its Safe Motorcycle Defensive Riding Training Programme. It is also working on improving the training module for future safe motorcycle riding and defensive driving courses.
Employers have a moral obligation to proactively manage occupational road risk and implement the Industrial Code of Practice on safety, health and the environment.
Employers can do much to change the driving attitudes of their employees. Employers can devise safe journeys, using safe vehicles and providing driver training to prevent road accidents.
Employers also have a duty to protect their employees and other road users by managing road risk to control the very significant business losses that arise from “at work” road accidents, including not only direct accident costs, but also lost staff time, higher insurance premiums and poor public image.
Companies that promote driving safety among their staff will achieve major cost savings by improving their image and making a significant contribution to meeting road safety targets.
Employers and employees have to be committed to build a culture of commuting accident prevention to reduce the rising number of accidents on our roads.
Lives are precious and we must do our part to prevent needless deaths.
Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Bangi, Selangor

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