Safe@Work will remain voluntary, says deputy minister

THERE are no plans to make it mandatory for industries to adopt the Safe@Work initiative, says Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong.

He said the initiative, which is voluntary, has been well-received by various industries since its launch on April 15.

“Since its launch... 5,278 applications have been received from the manufacturing and service sectors for the Safe@Work programme,” he told Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (Pejuang-Jerlun) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

Mukhriz had asked if the government would set a fixed safety standard operating procedure for industries rather than a voluntary one.

Lim said those participating in Safe@Work have to adopt a very specific SOP aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 while ensuring economic development is maintained.

The SOP includes setting up of a “work safe bubble” to allow factories to operate with less manpower.

“This includes isolation and treatment of infected workers,” said Lim, adding that close contacts would still be able to work pending their Covid-19 test results.

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

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

He said these would help companies curb the spread of the virus at their premises.

To further encourage participation in Safe@Work, Lim said companies are provided up to RM50,000 in tax relief for providing workers with accommodation.

He said employers are 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.

Lim also said digitisation and automation are seen as crucial components for industries to remain resilient and competitive under the “new normal”.

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

Pikas ended on Nov 1, but Lim said it could be reactivated if the need arises again.

At a suggestion by Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin (Barisan-Kinabatangan) to amend the law to increase punishment of employers who repeatedly flout the Covid-19 SOP, Lim replied that his suggestion would be looked into.

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

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