Amendments to OSH Act passed, stiffer penalties for workplace accidents resulting from breaches

KUALA LUMPUR: Employers who fail to ensure occupational safety and health (OSH) of their workers will face stiffer fines and prison sentences in the near future following amendments to the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.

This comes after the Dewan Rakyat passed the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2020 on Wednesday (Oct 27), paving the way for better protection and safety in the workplace.

"The increase in penalties serves as a deterrent (so) that employers ensure the safety of their workers," Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said when tabling the Bill.

Deputy Speaker Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon announced that the Bill was passed by a voice vote following debates.

The amendments will see penalties for several offences increasing between RM100,000 and RM500,000.

Jail sentences for convicted offenders were also increased to between one and three years for several offences.

It will also be mandatory for employers under Section 16 to formulate OSH policy for their respective workplaces.

A new Section 18A makes it mandatory for principal employers to ensure, as far as is practicable, the safety of contractors and sub-contractors including those employed by them.

A new Section 26 also gives employees the right to “remove” themselves from a work area if it is believed that there exists an "imminent danger" at the workplace.

However, employees must first inform their employers of the danger.

Amendments to Section 52 will also allow for company directors to be made jointly liable for offences under the Act.

Amendments to Section 9 will see the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health increased, from a minimum of 12 and maximum of 15 members, to between a minimum of 22 and maximum of 25 members.

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