A safer working enviroment on estates and farms could boost efficiency, productivity and profits.
There are hidden costs in accidents and near accidents in the workplace, including estates and farms. These work out to eight to 33 times more than the direct costs. In Malaysia, workplace safety is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA), which outlines procedures, delegates responsibility and prescribes penalties for offences.
Designed to protect the safety, health and welfare of employees arising out of their daily work routine, the Act stipulates the creation of a safety and health policy if the workplace has more than five workers. Premises with more than 40 employees must set up a safety and health committee.
The government has shown that it is serious about implementation, even going so far as to take employers to court. Deterrent fines, jail sentences and closure of the workplace await offenders.
Last year, the Human Resources Ministry pointed out: “By having a good safety management programme, you can avoid farm injuries and unplanned incidents that are costly, time-consuming, stressful and inconvenient. This makes good economic sense.”
In April 2000, the government introduced regulations on the Use and Standards of Exposure to Chemicals Hazardous to Health (USECHH), as part of the OSHA.
The regulations contain significant provisions on the use of such chemicals on estates and farms. Chemicals hazardous to health refer to those listed in Schedule 1 of the regulations – covering 94 preparations comprising insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and rodenticides.