Occupational hazards in Malaysia


A clean and safe working environment is a basic human right that belongs to any labor, said the president of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Lee Lam Thye recently.

Speaking at Wisma of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) during the commemoration day for dead and injured workers, Lee said that the need for safe and healthy working environment should be embedded in the culture of Malaysians.

“It should not only be a law or a guideline, it should be part of a culture, because then you won’t need constant supervision to ensure cleanliness and health. Everyone should be aware of his or her own safety,” he said.

Lee also claimed that injuries caused by occupational hazards are incurring losses to the country’s economy.

“Malaysia is losing four percent of its gross income due to such injuries and disablement of workers, which means the money spent on medical treatments and such.”

“In Scandinavian countries, the occupational accident rate is very low, around one or two injuries for every thousand workers. It is Malaysia, it is around 5.6 injuries for every thousand workers,” he revealed.

A fellow employee later narrated how his two colleagues were diagnosed with cancer due to insufficient protection provided at his working place, which was full of various chemicals.

“One of them lost his whole throat because it has been burnt by the chemicals,” he said.

Social Security Organization (SOCSO) activist A Sivanathan meanwhile criticized the social security body’s new guidelines to restrict medical leaves for those with occupational injuries to six months.

“After six months, they are asked to apply for a permanent disablement status. This change is purely administrative. The law permits such medical leaves to run up to a year, so it is not fair for the organization to make such changes.”

“If the doctor that he meets refuses to grant permanent disablement, the man will be left penniless,” he stated.