THE incident where three marathon runners were struck from behind by a car in Klang should act as a reminder to those involved in sports activities about the importance of maintaining the safety of organising staff and participants.
It is sad to note that we wait for a tragedy to happen before we discover our shortfalls.
I have to stress that occupational safety and health (OSH) in sports is crucial.
Now that the Youth and Sports Ministry wants to promote a healthy lifestyle through programmes and events, we need to ensure OSH in sports.
People’s excitement about sporting activities has been boosted by the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games and Kuala Lumpur Asean Para Games.
National Sports Day, celebrated on the second Saturday of every October, aims to make Malaysia a sporting nation.
It was reported that the ministry had empowered the public to organise sports activities and they were encouraged to register their programmes at www. harisukannegara.my.
Therefore, those involved in sports should adopt OSH management and practices to reduce accidents and health problems in the sector.
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
is ready to assist those in the sector to implement OSH management.
Although deaths and severe injuries do not occur every day in sports, the risks exist.
Accidents can be prevented if those involved, especially the authorities and the organisers, adopt an OSH management system based on the concept of hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control.
It is incumbent on the agencies involved and the organisers to identify and address hazards and risks.
I hope that the authorities can tighten safety procedures and ensure that organisers of ma-rathons and similar races abide by them.
The organisers must get approvals from the local authorities, traffic police, Sports Commissioner’s Office (SCO) and Malaysia Athletics Federation (MAF).
The ministry and MAF should prepare guidelines for organisers and the conditions for obtaining the permit, and approved events must be uploaded onto a website.
For example, organisers must ensure that the routes are illuminated while traffic should
be dispersed away from the routes.
The safety of marathon runners must be ensured before races begin, while the safety of routes must be monitored.
Safety signs must be provided for marathon races and there must be road marshals and other safety personnel to keep participants and spectators safe.
The organisers of the mara-thon should be responsible for the safety of participants.
It’s baffling that other events also took place without approval from MAF and SCO.
I hope that the authorities can rectify whatever shortcomings as it was reported that sports events were allowed to take place with just the local council and venue owner’s approvals.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
Chairman, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health