IN its effort to create awareness on occupational safety and health (OSH) among media practitioners, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is developing a specific training module which could help those in the industry to make the necessary preparation when covering risky assignments.
Hopefully, media organisations and the relevant institutions could come forward to share their input so that NIOSH could develop a comprehensive module that would benefit media employees especially those on the ground.
As an institute that helps to increase the OSH level in the country, NIOSH will continue to assist media organisations to improve the safety and health of all their practitioners while on duty.
The management of media organisations must give priority to the OSH aspect and ensure that their staff are given proper training and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) when covering risky assignments like the recent chemical dumping at Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang, Johor.
They should also set up an OSH committee if they have 40 employees and above, as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.
To date, NIOSH has organised several OSH for Media seminars nationwide with the main aim being to increase awareness on OSH among journalists, photographers, cameramen and also human resource staff.
This is part of our efforts to communitise OSH where every level of society should understand the importance of safety and health.
Apart from environmental pollution, more frequent natural disasters and the emergence of new diseases and mental illnesses are among the new challenges that media practitioners will face.
New working environments and the use of smart gadgets would also create health issues that are related to ergonomics, vision and mental illness such as depression. Media organisations must address these new challenges.
Based on my observation, the level of OSH awareness among media practitioners is still low. It is even more frustrating when some employers consider good OSH practices as a trivial issue and are not keen to implement them in their respective organisations.
Media organisations must refer to the Guidelines for Media Professionals published by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) under the Human Resources Ministry.
The guidelines include a safe work procedure which, among others, stresses that media practitioners must have sufficient information and preparation when working in risky zones and environmentally hazardous areas.
The guidelines were developed after the tragic incident where Bernama TV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor was killed while covering a humanitarian aid mission in Somalia in 2011.
The murder of Kim Jong-nam using VX poison in February 2017 also shows the importance of OSH among media practitioners.
Media practitioners must keep in mind that their job is to tell the story, not to become it. Those who put themselves needlessly at risk could ultimately prevent the story from being told or the picture being seen.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health