The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994 - Act 415 provides the legislative framework to promote, stimulate and encourage high standards of safety and health at work. The aim is to promote safety and health awareness, and establish effective safety organisation and performance through self-regulation schemes designed to suit the particular industry or organisation. The long-term goal of the Act is to create a healthy and safe working culture among all Malaysian employees and employers.
OSHA 1994 defines the general duties of employers, employees, the self-employed, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant or substances. Although these duties are of a general character, they carry a wide ranging set of responsibilities. The Act provides a comprehensive and integrated system of law to deal with the safety and health of virtually all people at work and the protection of the public where they may be affected by the activities of people at work.
The general duties of employers, employees, the self-employed, designers, manufacturers, importers and suppliers of plant or substances are clearly defined under OSHA 1994. Employers must safeguard so far as is practicable, the health, safety and welfare of the people who work for them. This applies in particular to the provision and maintenance of a safe plant and system of work. Arrangements must also be made to ensure safety and health in the use, handling, storage and transport of plant and substances. Under OSHA 1994, defination of ‘plant’ includes any machinery, equipment, appliance, tool and component, whilst ‘substance’ means any natural or artificial substance whether in solid, liquid, gas, vapour or combination thereof, form.
Risks to health from the use, storage or transportation of substances must be minimised. To meet these aims, all practicable precautions must be taken in the proper use and handling of any substance likely to cause a risk to health. It is the duty of employers to provide the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision in safe practices, including information on the legal requirements. Employers need to consider the specific training needs of their organisations with particular reference to processes with special hazards.
An employer employing 40 or more persons must establish a safety and health committee at the workplace. The committee’s main function is to keep under review the measures taken to ensure the safety and health of persons at the workplace and investigate any related matters arising. An employer must notify the nearest occupational safety and health office of any accident, dangerous occurrence, occupational poisoning or disease which has occurred or is likely to occur at the workplace.
Some operation, installation, maintenance and dismantling of equipment and process need competent persons. Thus, during the installation of machinery and equipment such as cranes, lifts and local exhaust ventilation systems, competent persons are compulsory to ensure safe erection, whilst a boilerman and a steam engineer are required to operate high risk equipment such as boilers. Processes that use hazardous chemicals require competent persons to conduct the air quality and personal monitoring, and a safety and health officer and an occupational health doctor are required to ensure the proper surveillance of the workplace.
There are seven regulations under OSHA 1994 that enforced by DOSH. They are:
- Employers’ Safety and Health General Policy Statements (Exception) Regulations, 1995
- Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazards Regulations, 1996
- Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Hazardous Chemicals Regulations, 1997
- Safety and Health Committee Regulations, 1996
- Safety and Health Officer Regulations, 1997
- Use and Standards of Exposure of Chemicals Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2000
- Notification of Accident, Dangerous Occurrence, Occupational Poisoning and Occupational Disease Regulations, 2004