Passport to staying safe while on duty

(From right) Lee, Astro Malaysia Holding Bhd chairman Tun Zaki Tun Azmi and Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang at the launch of the media safety passport training in Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. - Photos: NORAFIFI EHSAN/The Star

WHEN performing their duty to report the news, media practitioners should not end up becoming news themselves, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

Lee, who is National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman, said it was crucial for media personnel who are deployed to high-risk areas such as conflict zones and environmental disaster sites to be aware of the hazards they face and take appropriate measures.

Recalling the tragic incident where a Bernama cameraman, Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, was killed by a stray bullet while covering a humanitarian aid mission in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 2011, Lee said the incident spurred him to start the “media safety passports” (MSP) initiative.

The document would show that its holder had undergone safety training related to the media industry.

“The training would help media personnel identify hazards, assess risks and adopt the appropriate response.

  (From right) Lee, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd chairman Tun Zaki Azmi and Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang viewing some of the safety equipment on display at the  seminar.(From right) Lee, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd chairman Tun Zaki Azmi and Bernama chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang viewing some of the safety equipment on display at the seminar.

“It is also important for media personnel to be equipped with proper protective gear when covering the news in high-risk areas, ” said Lee who recounted his visit to a hospital in Johor where he met with a photographer who was admitted after having difficulty breathing as he had been exposed to toxic fumes while covering the Sungai Kim Kim pollution in Pasir Gudang.

Lee hoped the effort would raise awareness among media companies of the dangers they are putting employees in when covering news in high-risk areas.

“Safety is no trivial matter and should be viewed with utmost priority to ensure media personnel can carry out their jobs effectively.”

Lee said the training was free of charge and that Niosh was willing to conduct sessions at the premises of media companies provided there are at least 25 participants.

Lee added that under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, every company had a statutory duty to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for their employees.

“The safety passport is not new. It has long been adopted by other industries such as oil and gas, construction, manufacturing and hospitality.”

Lee said this after a safety seminar at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre where 103 media practitioners received their safety passports after undergoing training.

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