Home Opinion Bosses must learn about changes to law on occupational safety

Bosses must learn about changes to law on occupational safety

Bersatu deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu said Anwar Ibrahim should free Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of his duties to deal with his trial.

The amendments introduced under the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 (Osha) were gazetted on March 16 last year and were expected to be enforced in the first quarter of 2023 after the lapse of the normal one-year grace period granted by the authorities.

Osha has been amended to apply to all places of work, except for those serving in the armed forces, working onboard ships, and domestic helpers or maids.

In this respect, employers should take note that employees working from home are similarly protected under Osha.

It is imperative for employers and organisations to know the details of the amendments so that they will not run foul of the law.

There are a few salient amendments that have immediate ramifications for employers and organizations if not complied with.

Among them is that the duties of employers have now been extended to include contractors, subcontractors and the employees they engage.

In order to ensure workers of these contractors perform work safely at any premises, it is mandatory for the employer to conduct hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control (HIRARC) on how the work is to be performed.

Companies that are currently excluded from engaging safety and health officers are subject to a statutory duty to appoint a safety and health coordinator at the workplace.

Only organisations with fewer than five employees are exempted from this requirement.

To be a safety coordinator, the appointed person must undergo a three-day safety training course by accredited training providers. He must then register with the department of occupational safety and health (DOSH) as a safety coordinator.

Osha now allows employees to proactively safeguard their safety and health.

They have the statutory right to remove themselves from the workplace if there is imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury to them.

However, they have to first bring to the attention of the employer the danger. He could remove himself from the workplace if the employer fails to take any action to remove such danger.

The above are some of the provisions with immediate ramifications for employers.

For the longer term, employers and organisations have to embark on self-regulation on safety and health.

Self-regulation was the philosophy of Osha 1994 from its inception. Self-regulation is the controlling of a process or activity by the people and organisation rather than depending only on the authorities.

The onus to implement self-regulation is placed on both employers and employees. In this respect, DOSH is envisaged to issue guidelines and conduct seminars to assist industries in implementing self-regulation.

Employers should also note that Osha will impose greater penalties compared with the old legislation.

Employers found to have contravened their obligations will be liable to an increased fine of RM500,000 or imprisonment of two years, or both.

Furthermore, Osha stipulates that every person, who at the time of the commission of an Osha violation, is a director, manager, secretary or other officers of equivalent authority in the corporation, may be charged jointly in the same proceedings with the company.

In conclusion, employers and organizations have to stay abreast with these changes in Osha.

Some may even have to consult professionals to implement these Osha laws and regulations.



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