KUALA LUMPUR: The tourism sector should adopt good Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) management and practices to reduce the number of accidents and health problems in the sector.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said OSH management in the tourism industry is crucial as it will definitely bring positive impact to the safety and protection of not only the workers involved but also tourists.
"The recent incident where 16 Chinese tourists and their guide were injured when the bus they were travelling in skidded and crashed should serve to remind once again all those involved in the industry the importance of occupational safety and health (OSH).
"The victims in the incident were lucky as they only suffered from minor injuries" he said in a statement today.
In the incident last Tuesday, 13 women and three men, aged between 24 and 76 were on their way to Kota Kinabalu when the bus they were travelling in skidded and crashed into a drain along the Beaufort – Papar road.
Lee pointed out that good OSH practices in the tourism industry is all the more important now that the Tourism and Culture Ministry had targeted 36 million tourist arrivals in 2020.
"If all those in the tourism industry adhere to this concept, they will certainly take proactive steps to prevent accidents or illness from happening and ultimately help reduce the number of cases every year.
"NIOSH is ready to assist the tourism industry to implement the concept as it is part of its role to provide training, give consultation, disseminate information and conduct research on OSH," said Lee, a veteran activist.
Based on the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) information, 42 accidents in the hotel and restaurant sector were reported nationwide in the first seven months of the year.
Last year, 87 accidents and 3 deaths were reported in the hotel and restaurant sector, with two of the accidents involving permanent disability.
"Although accidents do occur in the tourism industry from time to time, we do not have the actual number of statistics because the sector is widespread and relevant data was collected by different agencies.
"It is important for us to have complete statistics so that better planning can be made to address this issue in the future," he said.
At the same time, Lee noted that NIOSH has already embarked on various OSH programmes with the private sector and state governments, especially in Sabah and Johor.
Citing an example, he said the NIOSH regional office in Sabah has implemented many programmes for the tourism industry since 2013.
These included OSH awareness and defensive driving seminar for tour bus drivers, courses on basic water safety, basic first aid and security induction training for tourism industry workers.
NIOSH is also promoting the “Vision Zero” concept for the industry, in line with the global movement led by the International Social Security Association (ISSA).
"The pursuit of Vision Zero is not about achieving zero accidents but to find solutions to help prevent injuries and ill health.
"ISSA has launched Vision Zero campaign at the 21st World Congress on Safety and Health at Work in Singapore early September and it was the first ever global campaign to improve safety, health and well being at work," he said.