Safeguarding workers

  • Metro News
  • Monday, 06 May 2019

JOHOR BARU: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) is urging the government to ratify the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 155 and 170.

Its chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the two conventions were important as they were the basic international labour standards for securing health and safety rights of all workers as well as ensuring safe chemical management and providing safe workplaces.

He added that ILO Convention 155 covers the occupational safety and health (OSH) aspect while ILO Convention 170 helps protect workers from the harmful effects of chemicals apart from protecting the public and the environment.

“The important feature of the ILO Convention 155 is that it applies to all workers in all branches of economic activity and therefore, its ratification is very important to ensure the state’s basic legal obligation and safeguard OSH rights of all workers in the country.

“As for ILO Convention 170, its goal is to provide workers with information about the chemicals at their workplaces and appropriate preventive measures,” he said.

Lee (middle) posing with a barrel of chemicals at the Major Chemical Spill and Leak Response CSR Session programme at TS Hotel.
Lee (middle) posing with a barrel of chemicals at the Major Chemical Spill and Leak Response CSR Session programme at TS Hotel.  

Lee said this when met after the Major Chemical Spill and Leak Response CSR Session programme jointly organised by the Academy of Safety and Emergency Care (ASEC) and Niosh.

Johor has seen several cases of toxic chemical dumping in rivers and near waterways. The toxic pollution of Sungai Kim Kim earlier this year resulted in over 4,000 people falling ill and led to the closure of 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district.

Lee said ratifying Convention 170 would ensure workers could effectively participate in protective programmes while establishing principles to help ensure that chemicals were used safely.

He added only a few countries in Asia such as China, South Korea, Mongolia, Australia, Fiji and Kazakhstan have ratified Convention 155 while none of the countries in South East Asia had done so.

As for ILO Convention 170, which is also known as the Chemicals Convention, Lee said only 21 countries had ratified it so far, including China and South Korea.

“The international community has long recognised health as a human right but in a world where more than 3 million workers die every year as a result of occupational accidents and work-related diseases, it is time for safety and health at work to be recognised as a fundamental principle and right at work,” he said.

Lee also urged chemical companies to self-regulate and play their role in ensuring the safety of the workplace, the health of their employees and the surrounding public.

He said they must support the responsible care initiative adopted by Malaysia since 1994 and which is led by Chemical Industries Council of Malaysia (CICM) as its sole custodian.

“Chemical companies should pledge their commitment to the guiding principles and implement the Codes of Management Practices, which goes beyond legislative and regulatory compliance.

“Responsible Care is an ethic and commitment by the chemical industry that builds confidence and trust in the global chemical industry,” he said.

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