BANGI: Organisations and companies could reduce occupational diseases by implementing engineering control through specific methods built into plant design, equipment and processes.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said engineering control was more effective than administrative control (or work practice control) and the use of personal protective equipment.
He said NIOSH could help suggest practical solutions to occupational health problems and occupational diseases, using low-cost but high-impact approach.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, he said NIOSH had conducted a study on Exposure and Control of Health Hazards in Industry, which had resulted in the development of 16 engineering interventions to help minimise the occupational health problems in 10 specific sectors.
“Some 120 companies have participated in the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) where 16 interventions were developed, 30 publications released and 10 customized occupational health guidelines developed for the sectors,” he said.
He said the top three occupational diseases were related to Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL), musculoskeletal disorders and occupational lung diseases.
“We must give similar attention to occupational health as how we deal with occupational safety aspect since there was an increase in the number of cases over the years,” he said.
On an average, there was about 30 per cent increase in occupational diseases reported to the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) every year, he said.
“It could be attributed to the increased awareness in the industry to report occupational health cases at their workplaces. Undeniably, OH (Occupational Health) has now become a more significant issue in the industry,” he said.
While the big players or multinationals are putting in effort to reduce the risk of injuries or illnesses through effective Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Management System, he said many of the smaller-scale enterprises were reluctant to focus on it, mainly because of the cost involved.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Lee said more than 1.1 million people died every year from occupational accidents or work-related diseases in Asia and the Pacific, and the poorest, least protected, least informed and least trained were the most affected.