Safe@Work initiative well-received but no plans to make it mandatory, Parliament told

KUALA LUMPUR: There are no plans to make it mandatory for industries to adopt the Safe@Work initiative, said Datuk Lim Ban Hong (pic).

The Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister said the present voluntary initiative has been well-received since it's implementation in April this year.

"Since its launching on April 15 this year, a total of 5,278 applications have been received from the manufacturing and service sectors on the Safe@Work programme," he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Pejuang-Jerlun) in Dewan Rakyat on Monday (Nov 22).

Mukhriz asked if the government would set a fixed standard operating procedures (SOP) for industries rather than on a voluntary basis.

Lim noted that those participating under the Safe@Work programme had to adopt a very specific SOP aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 while ensuring economic well-being.

Among them, he said, was the setting up of a safe work bubble by employers to allow factories to operate with less manpower.

"This includes isolation and treatment of infected workers," he said, adding that close contacts were still able to work pending their Covid-19 test results.

He said that employers were also required to set up internal committees to monitor and ensure SOP compliance.

To further encourage participation under the Safe@Work programme, Lim said that companies were provided up to RM50,000 tax relief for providing workers with accommodations.

On the Public-Private Partnership Covid-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (Pikas), he informed the House that the programme had achieved its target of vaccinating over a million workers in the country.

Owing to this success, he said Pikas ended on Nov 1.

However, he added that the programme could be reactivated by the government if the need arises in light of the pandemic.

On a suggestion by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) to amend the law to increase punishment on employers, who repeatedly flout SOPs, Lim said that it was a consideration which could be looked at.

However, he said implementing such a proposal would have to be dealt with by several ministries as it would involve amendments to the law.

In addition to the SOP, he said companies registered under the Work@Safe programme were encouraged to set up a workers safety bubble committee and a Covid-19 SOP compliance committee (Pert).

He said this would help companies curb outbreaks of the virus at their plants.

He added that employers were encouraged to provide and manage conducive accommodations for workers.

Safe@Work was implemented in April for industries and business sectors to fully reopen during the economic recovery phase.

Meanwhile, Lim also said that digitisation and automisation were seen as crucial components for indutries to remain resilient and competitive under the new normal.

As such, he said government has implemented several programmes under the IR4.0 to benefit the small and medium industries.

Among them, he added, were access to the Industry4WRD Intervention Fund, automation capital allowance, smart automation grant and digital transformation scheme.

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