PETALING JAYA: Schools have been reminded not to lose focus of the safety aspect as attention is currently being placed on student crime, cleanliness and food safety.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said there is a lack of awareness that the safety aspect also covers building structure and other facilities such as playing fields, canteens, laboratories, toilets and hostels.
“When people talk about safety and health in schools, they will only focus on cleanliness, food safety and measures to prevent students from getting involved in crime, drug abuse and other social ills.
“But there had been many reports of accidents in schools caused by collapsing structures, goalposts, defective ceiling fans and toilets,” he said in a statement yesterday to underline the necessity of Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) measures in schools.
He said to date, about 50 schools had joined the OSH in School programme – a collaboration between NIOSH and the Education Ministry – with support from the private sector.
“OSH in School brings a new dimension to bolster the ministry’s existing 3K programme that refers to Kebersihan (Cleanliness), Kesihatan (Health) and Keselamatan (Safety),” he added.
NIOSH, Lee said, viewed schools as a workplace in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.
Under the Act, schools with at least 40 staff members are required to set up an OSH committee to help reduce the number of accidents in schools.
Lee said the Department of Occupational Safety and Health had recorded 31 school-related accidents in the past five years.
They included fatal incidents where goalposts or fans fell on students as well as cases where pupils came into contact with chemicals in science labs.
“I believe the actual number of accidents is higher as some schools might have not reported cases that they considered as small.
“Good OSH practice is crucial to prevent accidents as there are about five million students and nearly half a million teachers in 10,000 schools throughout Malaysia,” he said.