Duties of Malaysian Employers Under Section 16, Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994 in Malaysia

Section 16. Duty to formulate safety and health policy.

Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer and every self-employed person to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the safety and health at work of his employees and the organization and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.

In plain English, what s16, OSHA 1994, does is compel employers in Malaysia to have a Safety and Health Policy. Another article by Aldric Tinker discussing this topic in a degree of detail is OSH Policy.

The subject matter of this provision is that Safety and Health Policy. Malaysian employers are required to:

  1. Have the policy;
  2. Display it in writing;
  3. Regularly update the policy;
  4. Communicate the policy and any changes to it to the employees and interested parties.

Besides that, s16 requires the employers to have a system that can effectively carry out the policy. This system includes a hierarchy of Occupational Safety and Health employees, management team and execution team. Under this system you may also find training programmes, good OSH practices as well as a series of procedures that governs the execution of the organisation's OSH policy.

Indirectly, this provision intends the employers to take OSH matters quite seriously. So, beside having a stand on it, they have a mechanism to execute it. If the policy is not met, then the mechanism needs to address the situation.

One common mistake is to put the responsibility of keeping the workplace safe solely and only on the employer. As employees, you play an even more important role in keeping yourself safe. Things like the amount of rest, the level of alcohol you consume each night, how well you sleep etc. are beyond the control of your employees. Besides that, reckless and irresponsible behaviours in the workplace can lead to the failure of the OSH policy and mechanism.

The intention of OSH is, after all, to keep you safe. Besides your bosses, you need to take proactive measures as well.

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