Lee Lam Thye: Underreporting hinders efforts to tackle industrial accidents

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 27 Jun 2017

PETALING JAYA: The underreporting of industrial accident cases will affect the effectiveness of the Government's medium and long-term plans to tackle the problem, said Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman said that was because the Government's plans would be drafted based on inaccurate data.

He said the number of accidents reported to the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and to the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (Dosh) differed significantly by 97.49%, based on a study by researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

"The research shows that although 31.347 accidents in the construction sector were reported to Socso from 2009 to 2014, the number of cases investigated by Dosh was only 787.

"The huge gap between the cases compiled by Socso and Dosh may suggest that the actual number of accidents in the construction sector is much higher," he said in a statement Tuesday.

He added that many accident cases in the construction sector were not reported by employers, especially non-fatal accidents or less severe cases.

The study entitled "Malaysian Construction Industry: Trends of Occupational Accidents from 2006 to 2015" was published in the latest Journal of Occupational Safety and Health 2016.

Lee said the lack of accurate data would have a negative impact on the safety and welfare of workers in the construction industry, which has the highest risk of fatality compared with other industries in the country.

"The victims or their next-of-kin would normally lodge a report with Socso in order to claim for the benefits after the occupational accidents had occurred.

"There is a possibility that accidents in the construction sector were much higher as most of the workers were foreigners, including those who had worked without or with expired permits.

“Socso's figures only cover those who have contributed to its fund and the data is incomplete since there is no available statistics on unregistered local and foreign workers in the country,” he said.

Lee stressed that a nationwide awareness campaign is necessary to urge all employers to report every single accident and near miss that have occurred at their workplaces.

He said many employers were unaware that it is compulsory to report such cases under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994.

The construction sector recorded 751 deaths caused by occupational accidents from 2007 to 2016.

In 2016 alone, there were 2,880 accidents and 55 deaths.

The second highest number of deaths were recorded in the manufacturing sector (370), followed by agriculture, forestry, logging and fishery (337); transport, storage and communication (134); utility (81); mining and quarrying (64); financial, insurance, real estate and business services (55); public services and statutory bodies (30); wholesale and retail trade (19), and hotel and restaurant (6).

"Accidents and Occupational injuries are preventable through the implementation of good safety and health practices at the workplace. Niosh provides various training programmes that could help reduce such accidents, including in the construction sector," said Lee.

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