Commentary By NIOSH Chairman In Conjunction With The Launch Of 3M Safety Solutions

To encourage more employers to protect their workers, the government should introduce tax rebate and other incentives for the import and manufacturing of good quality and smart personal protective equipment (PPE).

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye says “At a time when Malaysia is undergoing rapid development, greater attention must be given to safety at work and the use of high-quality and advance PPE.”

Lee said that he would like to once again propose to the government to consider granting tax rebate for imported PPE to make them more affordable and encourage employers to acquire better quality PPE for their employees.

“Any tax rebate for PPE will be an incentive to help promote safety and health at the workplace,” he adds when launching the 3M Malaysia safety products in conjunction with the 17th Asian Oil Gas and Petroleum Engineering Exhibition (OGA 2019) at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Lee said the government should also provide incentives to importers and local manufacturers who introduce good quality and smart PPE including those which incorporate the latest technology such as high-accuracy sensor, global positioning system (GPS) and radio frequency identification (RFID).

“Some companies have already introduced PPE that use light-weight fabrics or cooling system which could help keep workers more comfortable when doing their jobs under scorching sun,” Lee further adds.

He said the 3M Malaysia’s Scott Safety solutions for example, provide a range of innovative respiratory and personal protective equipment and safety devices for workers associated with commercial and residential heavy construction operations.

The products from Scott Safety on display at OGA 2019 include Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), Thermal Imaging Equipment and Escape Breathing Apparatus, complementing 3M’s personal safety portfolio.

Under a collaboration with 3M Malaysia, Lee said NIOSH had also helped distribute suitable respirators to Johor Relief Organisation during the Sungai Kim Kim incident in Pasir Gudang in March.

Lee said the knowledge on the right protection equipment or PPE is key to the promotion of safer work culture and could help reduce the risks of occupational hazards.

He said PPE are designed to protect workers from workplace injuries or illnesses resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical or other workplace hazards and they include safety goggles, coveralls, gloves, vests, earplugs, respirators and safety shoes.

“PPE are often essential and is generally the last line of defence after engineering and administrative controls have failed to reduce exposures of the employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994 requires the use of PPE to reduce employees’ exposures to hazards at the workplace,” he asserts.

However, he said employers had been complaining of the high price of imported and advance PPE and many of them had resorted to other alternatives such as buying cheaper products with lower quality, exposing their employees to occupational injuries and diseases.

Lee hoped that employers would not compromise on the quality of PPE as they must adhere to the guidelines given by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health or at least meet the SIRIM standards requirement to ensure the quality of such products.

Under the law, it is the responsibility of employers to provide training and PPE while for employees, it is their responsibility to wear it.

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