THE Penang government is pushing for the Safe@Work initiative to be made compulsory following an increase in Covid-19 cases in the manufacturing sector.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the initiative introduced by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) would, to an extent, reduce industrial clusters in the state.
“Given that 47 factories were closed in the first quarter due to SOP violation, it is vital that the Safe@Work initiative is made compulsory and fully enforced at workplaces, ” he said after launching the Penang Smart Parking version 2.0.3 app at the City Hall on Saturday.
It was reported that to protect workers, the Safe@Work initiative can be implemented on a voluntary basis where employers and companies are to provide a conducive workplace and accommodation for their workers.
It also allows close contacts of workers who have tested positive for Covid-19 to continue working at the workplace, provided they remain within a “Safe Work Bubble”.
The close contacts will be separated from their colleagues until tests confirm that they are free of Covid-19 and are not likely to infect others.
Companies who take part in this initiative will also be entitled to a RM50,000 tax exemption.
Noting that Penang is struggling with three-digit infections daily, Chow said the state planned to introduce the ‘lifestyle bubbles’ within the manufacturing sector for workers in vulnerable situations.
“To contain any possible spread of Covid-19, workers in a group will occupy the same living quarters and travel in the same vehicles to limit their exposure to infection or reinfections.
“They will also dine together and this will create a bubble which will offer a layer of protection against Covid-19, ” he said, adding that the move will make it manageable for factories to contain the spread of the virus.
On the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in Penang, Chow said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had approved the preliminary allocation of RM7mil although the state had actually requested for a RM40mil allocation to carry out the exercise, especially under Phase Two and Three.
Chow said Khairy, in a meeting with him recently, had also agreed that workers in the manufacturing sector should be given priority for vaccination.
He said this was because most of the Covid-19 cases involved those from the manufacturing sector.
“This can only be done in about two months’ time, depending on the delivery of the vaccines to Malaysia.
“For example, if a factory has 3,000 workers waiting to be vaccinated, then a vaccination centre can be set up at the particular factory where a group of medical frontliners from a hospital or clinic is sent there to facilitate the vaccination exercise.
“This will not only expedite the vaccination exercise, but also contain the cases within the parameters of the factory environment, ” he said, adding there were also cases involving the manufacturing sector in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Johor.